I wanted to thank my wife, Dr. Jenna Zigler, and my son, Jude, for helping me write this book. They put everything into perspective for me and, without them, this book would not have been possible.
I also wanted to thank the Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community. Starting this group in 2016 has literally changed the entire course of my life to serving those who suffer from dry eye. And it has been a fun ride serving and learning from you!
Prologue by Dr. Edward H. Jaccoma, MD
As a practicing ophthalmologist for over 30 years, I have seen all kinds of dry eye and dry eye related problems (including my own). This practice has taught me that dry eye is fast becoming a national epidemic – a plague that is largely, though unknowingly, self-caused.
Fast food, fast living with more time devoted to staring at screens and devices and less time to more physically recreational and then restful endeavors, drives our eyes at a pace our little tear glands can’t keep up with.
Worse, we train these glands that they are not needed because staring begets weak blinking and only strong blinks “milk” the glands into producing healthy tears. Without properly nourishing and using these glands, they block up and whither (or turn into nasty pimples we call styes). Without healthy tears, our quality of life declines. Eyes get red, irritated, tired and productivity and the “joy of life” starts to sag.
Refining my treatments for these conditions, I came upon a standard regimen that I called the “homework” and which I packaged into kits to make the basic products easy to obtain and affordable for my patients. I developed advice based on the work of others in the fields of sports medicine and nutrition that I found to work best in conjunction with the “homework” and I’ve taught this to countless doctors and patients over the years.
My typical patient encounter includes reminders that “we are what we eat” and that the glands important to making tears require good foods, enough water and the constant full blinks to nourish and exercise these glands into providing the tears that keep our eyes healthy and happy.
Looking for sources of reasonably priced products and easily accessed packaging of these products and advice, I came across Drs. Jenna and Travis Zigler and their company Eye Love. I found an echo of myself in their work. Much of what they tell you in this book is what I’ve tried to instill in my practice and there isn’t a word here that I can’t endorse.
Modifying my own diet and eye habits has helped me in treating my dry eye problem – as has the bountiful technologies that now help to better diagnose and treat my issues – and those of my patients. Treating the chronic, progressive disease we call “dry eye” requires the combined efforts of the patient and their knowledgeable eye care provider.
This book is a great first step down the path leading to happy and healthy eyes.
My advice: read this book, research the plentiful resources included on their website and see a competent dry eye specialist. Do what you have to in order to turn your problem around (or better yet, to prevent those problems). Eyes are one of our most valued yet commonly neglected organs and life is so much better appreciated when they are functioning at their best!
Edward H. Jaccoma, MD
“Nature knows when you are in harmony with yourself and your environment… We frantically go to a doctor to see if they can fix [the problem]. They can’t; only YOU can.”--Dr. Randine Lewis, PhD
Before we dive into this journey, I want to talk to all of you about the struggle of dry eye disease and disease in general. Our healthcare crisis in the United States has hit an epidemic. Diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and other inflammatory conditions are increasing dramatically with diabetes now affecting almost one out of every two Americans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 37% of Americans are obese.
THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
It is the fault of a $1 trillion food industry trying to tell you what is “healthy” and what is “unhealthy.” Low-fat, low-carb, gluten-free, whole-grain, and high-fiber are all catchy terms used by the food industry to make you think something is healthy.
Then you read article after article about fat being bad, then fat being good, then eggs being bad, and then eggs being good, etc…, etc…
On top of that, conventional medicine simply throws medications on a problem of a certain area of the body. For example, if you have diabetes, take this pill to help your blood sugar levels. But rather than take a pill, why not look to find the underlying cause of WHY your blood sugar levels are off in the first place.
This is where functional medicine comes in. Functional medicine sees a problem and tries to figure out what causes the problem. It then makes changes to try and fix it.
It doesn’t matter what your genetics tell you (my parents were diabetic so I was destined to be too). You can reverse all that and live a happier, healthier life without medications and surgery.
Regardless of where you are in this dry eye adventure, know that from this moment forward, you have a choice - you can choose whether you want to feel amazing or just get by.
Take this opportunity to set the bar for how you want to live the rest of your life...feeling great or feeling lousy. The choice is YOURS. I promise that if you follow the steps laid out in the upcoming chapters, you will be feeling more incredible than you ever thought possible.
YOU are capable of far greater than what your limiting beliefs tell you. YOU can do this if you believe that you can. If you are not willing to make a change, then I would stop reading right here and reach out for a full refund as you will not like this book.
The next few chapters are from my deep dive into books, functional and holistic medicine, nutrition and conversations with leading experts in these fields. I had given myself two days to write the section on food helping your dry eye, and it took me almost a full year to complete version one. You are now holding version two in your hands, which took me another year on top of that. I am finishing this in January of 2019 more excited than ever to release this information and to help YOU on this journey to heal yourself.
Thoughts on Western Medicine
Now before you think I am about to bash Western medicine in the next section, I want to note that my wife, Dr. Jenna Zigler, and myself, Dr. Travis Zigler, are both Western medicine trained doctors. We practiced Western medicine for over 15 combined years. We still believe that Western medicine is amazing and saves lives everyday.
The unfortunate realization is that Western medicine (which is only one way of treatment) is this:
Patient has a problem that needs to be addressed, so they head to their doctor.
We use the newest medication to treat the SYMPTOM of the patient’s problem.
If that treatment doesn’t take, we switch to another medication.
Then, if that treatment doesn’t work, we have to resort to surgery to fix the problem.
Western society (patients) and Western medicine (doctors) are after, far too often, the quick remedies. We want results and we want them now.
We were taught this method of medicine...
We believed in this method of medicine...
Until our world came tumbling to a halt...
Our Shifting Belief from Western Medicine to Eastern Medicine
It was early 2015, and we had just moved to South Carolina, from Ohio, to start our two new optometry practices! I promised my wife that after we moved, we could start trying for children.
So we did…
Five months into trying to have children, we realized that it was not as easy as all our friends made it out to be. We started exploring what could be causing this problem. I was tested to make sure I was fertile, but that wasn’t the problem. Jenna was tested and found that she had polycystic ovaries.
Numerous lab tests were run, but aside from polycystic ovaries shown on ultrasound, hormone levels and nutrient levels were all normal. Because it appeared Jenna was “healthy”, we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility complicated by polycystic ovaries… the most frustrating of all diagnoses in those trying to get pregnant!
We began with a few monthly rounds of Clomid and metformin, which all failed to achieve the desired result. We were then prescribed Letrozole, in hopes that it would work in a different way. It didn’t. Through these pharmaceutical interventions come a lot of undesired side effects including sleeplessness, anxiety, mood swings, rage, thirst, and more.
Finally in July of 2016, we were told by our fertility doctor that we would have to do In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) if we were ever going to get pregnant. This costs anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 with a 33% chance of success. Not to mention, Jenna would have to put a massive amount of expensive pharmaceuticals and chemicals into her body in order to have that small chance to conceive.
This is not including the emotional toll of IVF on both the woman trying to conceive and the husband as well. With that being said, there is a place for IVF and it has done amazing things for families, we just didn’t think it was for us.
The night before our first IVF appointment while lying in bed, I turned to Jenna and told her that I didn’t believe that IVF was right for us. I expressed that there had to be a better way, and she agreed. This led us on a journey to explore additional routes of medicine including Eastern medicine, which is about finding out what is causing this distress in your body and healing it from the inside out.
We were already eating a plant-based diet, with minimal meat consumption of about one time per month. We then switched to eating only organic food.
At the recommendation of a few friends, Jenna started receiving weekly acupuncture treatments. Her acupuncturist started her on a healthy, high fat diet (more on this later) and reduced the amount of carbs and sugar she was consuming. Four more months passed and still no results, although her progress with acupuncture looked promising.
In February, our acupuncturist told us everything that month looked perfect, and that we may conceive the next weekend. In the meantime, losing hope after two and a half years of trying, we scheduled an adoption meeting to begin the process.
The day before the adoption meeting, we took a pregnancy test… And it was positive.
And here I am writing this section of our book one year after our son Jude was born.
He is our miracle baby and continues to inspire and awe us everyday because he wasn’t supposed to even be here.
This shifted my belief in how I practiced medicine as an eye doctor. I started thinking that maybe every time I prescribe a medication I am just covering up a symptom to a much larger problem going on with the body. I started exploring different methods of healing disease from the inside out. Which leads me to the present day and writing this book for you.
The unfortunate realization is that there is no magic bullet. You cannot go on a diet, eliminate a food group, take a new medication or supplement or eye drop and expect all disease to go away.
There is so much noise out there on cutting fat and lowering your carbs to lose weight and fight disease, yet we are more stressed, sedentary, sleepless, inflamed, and dying of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol, and others. It doesn’t have to be this way, and that is what this book will help with.
The realization is that you need to take the steps necessary to promote a healthy lifestyle. You do not have to go through all of the recommendations in this book at once. You will get overwhelmed and be doomed to fail. What you can do is take it one step and one day at a time. When you finish taking action on one chapter and have it developed as a habit, move on to the next action item.
A brief summary of what this book will cover and how it will help you:
Hydration to flush and keep all systems going
Nutrition and food as the fuel your body needs to reduce inflammation and repair itself
Movement to fill your body with oxygen
Minimizing toxins and reducing stress (my favorite section of all)
How we treat dry eye in practice and other traditional dry eye treatments
Please know that the methods I discuss in this book are NOT just for dry eye, but for healing the entire body of ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, arthritis, infertility, and any other symptoms you have.
With all that being said, let’s jump into the strategies that we now teach to thousands of people around the world.
Enjoy this new opportunity to take back your life and TAKE ACTION to feel happier with yourself and feel more confident than ever before.
REMEMBER ONE THING. YOU PICKED UP THIS BOOK BECAUSE WHAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY DOING AND WHAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY PRESCRIBED IS NOT WORKING TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS, AND YOU ARE READY FOR A CHANGE.
This new journey starts with what you put into your body. Your body wants to heal itself. It wants to be healthy and well, and it fights to do this on a daily basis provided there is nothing getting in the way. One of the biggest things that gets in the way is what we put into our body.
Food and water is powerful medicine, so let’s dive in.
At the end of each section or chapter there will be action items. To get action item worksheets visit www.rethinkingdryeye.com to download and print.
Throw out all your limiting beliefs, your can’ts, wont’s, and excuses. You can do this if you believe you can do it. You are here because you want a change in your life. You want to feel better. Make that change and take back control of your life.
Chapter 1 - Hydration and Drinking Plenty of Water
Treatment for ALL disease should start with drinking plenty of water daily. Seventy-five percent (75%!!!) of us walk around dehydrated. You should be carrying around a reusable water bottle with you at all times (do yourself and our planet a favor and avoid disposable plastic water bottles).
Follow the motto, if you think, drink! This means that every time you think about drinking water, you should take a drink. We have a survival mechanism that tells us we are starting to get thirsty before we even do.
What Dehydration Causes…
Dehydration can cause a list of ailments and symptoms that are very similar to disease. A lot of people who are just dehydrated are diagnosed with disease, when a simple glass of water (or about ten glasses per day) can help eliminate these symptoms. Dehydration can cause dry eye, brain fog, fatigue, sickness, and overall malaise.
Does this sound familiar? Get drinking!
Symptoms of dehydration include:
Decreased urination or deep yellow or orange urine
How Much to Drink?
This obviously depends on the size of the person, but a typical recommended amount per day is two liters, which is about 10-8 ounce glasses of water (think dinner glasses). 10 glasses of water per day may sound daunting but, I assure you, with a system and reusable water bottle in place, it is easy to surpass that.
Drink great quality water that is free of heavy metals (often found in tap water). Make sure you have a heavy duty filter. Most refrigerator filters do not filter out everything but are a good start. We purchased and recommend the BIG Berkey water filtration countertop unit. You can also have an in-house filtration system installed under your sink.
Avoid beverages and foods which have diuretic effects such as coffee, caffeinated teas (limit to less than two cups per day), and alcohol (less than one standard drink per day). If you must have your caffeine, make sure you’re drinking at least that same amount of water right after to avoid dehydration. Also drinking organic coffees and teas will make a big difference in the amount of toxins you are putting in your body.
Toxins found in typical tap water and other drinks can build up over time causing inflammation and other chronic problems. Investing in a high quality filtration system will pay dividends for your health down the road. The BIG Berkey, mentioned above, costs about $200 per year, which is about the cost of one doctor visit. Drinking filtered water will save you at least one doctor visit per year.
Side note: Dr. Travis Zigler drinks two liters right after waking up to hyper-hydrate (more on this later). Dr. Jenna drinks at least 3-32 ounce water bottles full daily, spacing it out throughout her day (one full bottle is consumed before she eats anything that day).
Hyper-Hydration & The Effects of Proper Hydration
Hyper-hydration is a term given to drinking a lot of water in a short period of time to flush the body with water. Wake up with a hyper-hydration session of 16 to 32 ounces of water (two to four cups, 0.5 to 1.0 liter). You can add a squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar to your water for enhanced effects. It will take your body a few days to adjust to drinking this much first thing, but the effects are well worth it!
Flushing the body with water and staying properly hydrated has numerous effects on the body including boosting your metabolism by 30-50% for the next two hours (which is like working out). It will flush your circulatory and lymphatic system of toxins accumulated in the body throughout the day before, as water is the purge vehicle for toxins.
Along with flushing the body of these toxins, proper hydration lowers the noise in your body and connects your mind to your body, which means less brain fog and more clarity. You will feel the effects of hydration after three days of using hyper-hydration in the morning. You will feel clearer and more alive than ever before.
Three-Step System To Stay Hydrated
Drink 16 to 32 ounces (0.5 to 1.0 liter) of water right after waking up, before eating. The benefits of hyper-hydration first thing in the morning are that you purge toxins, flush the circulatory & lymphatic system, and boost metabolism.
Keep close proximity to water. Everytime you look at your water bottle, take a drink.
If you think, drink! As stated above, if you think about drinking water, it is your body’s way of telling you it needs some water. This will help you stay hydrated all day and lead to a 30 to 50% increase in metabolism.
Drink 16 to 32 ounces of water right after waking up (hyper-hydration), before eating.
Drink 8 to 16 ounces of water 10 to 15 minutes before every meal or snack.
Purchase a 32 ounce (or larger) water bottle and keep it near you at all times. Whenever you look at your water bottle, take a drink. “If you think, drink”.
Purchase a Camelback Backpack for working out.
Purchase a BIG Berkey Water Filtration Kit to decrease toxins in your drinking water.
Head to www.RethinkingDryEye.comunder the Hydration tab to print your checklist for drinking more water. The patients and readers who take action at the end of each chapter see exponentially better results and decrease their dry eye symptoms significantly. TAKE ACTION!!
“Diet is HUGE! It has an enormous role in every aspect of our health across the board. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet is the number one thing I recommend.” - Katherine Thurer, MD
The Word “Diet”
I use the term diet in this book a lot. I do not believe in dieting and the word diet is used to describe what you will be eating. You are not going on a diet. You are starting a new diet of healthy foods that will completely transform your life, and if you stick to this healthy, new lifestyle of eating, you can eat as much as you want inside of it.
Again, you are not going on a diet, but rather making a choice to live a better, healthier life.
What is Disease?
The most commonly cited causes of disease are lack of oxygen, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, etc…). There are numerous culprits that can lead to any of these four causes and they can include: animals, dairy, sugar, and toxic chemicals.
These foods can increase estrogen levels, flood the body with toxic chemicals, and carry life threatening bacteria. We will explore each section in much more detail later.
What you put in your mouth is one of the biggest factors affecting how your body works and feels. The cleaner, more oxygen-pumping, anti-inflammatory, hormone balancing, and nutrient-filled food you put in your body, the better your body can do what you ask of it.
I love the quote at the beginning of this chapter by Katherine Thurer, MD and I think it is worth repeating and reading one more time. “Diet is HUGE! It has an enormous role in every aspect of our health across the board. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet is the number one thing I recommend.”
Embracing Foods That Heal
Food can be the ultimate source of healing or the ultimate destruction of your body. Once you clear away the junk that’s clogging your body from years of poor diet, you will unclog your mind as well. You’ll be able to tap into your healthiest and happiest you.
By the way, this junk food and poor diet that you might be eating is NOT your fault. It is the fault of the government, big pharmaceutical companies, and factory farms, which have deep pockets to fund campaigns to make you think that what you are eating is healthy.
So where does this transformation begin?
All of this starts with plants!
A healthy, plant-based diet is the consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing (if not eliminating) processed foods, oils, and animal foods (including dairy products and eggs). It encourages lots of vegetables (cooked or raw), fruits, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, and nuts.
Plants help balance your hormones, maintain a stable blood sugar and pressure, and generally fuel all of our systems in a cleaner, more efficient way. Plant-based foods are nature’s way of giving us sun-powered health in a delicious, ready-to-eat form.
There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods - including protein and iron - that aren’t better provided by plants. Plants can supercharge your body, reduce diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and help you live the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Research done by Drs. T Colin Campbell, Caldwell B Esselstyn Jr., and John McDougall have shown that changing diet to include more plant based foods and less animal-based foods can help you live longer, feel younger, lose weight, have more energy, preserve your eyesight, keep your mind sharp, and have a more vibrant sex life. They also discuss that it can eliminate your need for pharmaceutical drugs, especially for treating things like depression, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Fiber is at the top of the list of health benefits of plants. Dietary fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Don’t worry about the foods that contain all these healthy compounds right now, because we will have lists and examples for you later in this book.
Fiber helps “scrub” our intestines clean of all the junk that inhabits them on a daily basis. Fiber cannot be digested by our bodies and passes intact throughout our digestive system, unlike fats, proteins, or carbohydrates, which our body breaks down and absorbs.
Since we don’t digest fiber, it helps move things along from entrance to exit, which helps prevent and relieve constipation. Fiber also absorbs chemicals and toxins along the way. The more fiber you eat the lower your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and rectal and colon cancer, while helping you maintain a healthy weight.
The easiest way to add more fiber to your diet? Eat more vegetables, whole fruits (not juice) and beans.
A lack of fiber can cause constipation, bloating, hemorrhoids, gas, and diseases like intestinal or colon cancer.
Also, when eating foods with high fiber, drink plenty of water as fiber works best with water (you should be drinking more water anyway).
Phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, are found in plants and act like shields that soak up invaders and keep them from harming the plants’ tissues. Our bodies cannot fight against these free radicals, industrial pollutants, or toxins. These cause our bodies and tissues to start breaking down, which can lead to Alzheimer’s, dementia, cataracts, hardening of the arteries, cancer, emphysema, and arthritis.
If we eat plants, they lend us their powers to fight these toxins. Each plant has its own fighting ability, which is why a variety of plants is key to your diet.
A side bonus of phytochemicals is that they help with wrinkles by protecting your skin from damage and helping your skin produce more collagen. Whole grains are packed with B-complex vitamins which help with glowing skin.
Carotenoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers their bright orange, yellow, and red hues. Other plant-based foods with carotenoids include spinach, kale, squash, kiwi, and grapes.
A few types of carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene, play a critical role in maintaining eye health. They benefit our eyes by guarding against vision loss, while improving one’s ability to see colors and fine detail. Additionally they also play a role in protecting our eyes against the damaging effects of UV light we encounter outdoors as well as blue light from our computers, phones, tablets, and televisions. The lutein and zeaxanthin pigments in foods and through supplementation can also help prevent cataracts and worsening of macular degeneration.
Oh fat… how I love thee, but you are one confusing nutrient.
The obesity epidemic that has hit the United States has been battled in a very interesting and counter-productive way for the past several decades. We were taught to believe (again by the food industry) that eating low-fat products will help us lose the fat we have in our body.
To replace this low-fat want, carbohydrate intake has increased dramatically. Dr. Sylvan Lee Weinburg, former president of the American College of Cardiology said it best:
“The low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet… may well have played an unintended role in the current epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndromes. This diet can no longer be defended by appeal to the authority of prestigious medical organizations.”
The opposite of this is true as well. A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (looking at you Paleo and Dr. Atkins) can be just as harmful because GOOD carbohydrates are needed to help fuel your body.
Finding the balance between GOOD fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, organic, naturally raised animal protein) and GOOD carbohydrates (fibrous, energy making carbs) carry great nutrients that our body needs. A more complete list and more compete meal charts will be included later in this book.
The grocery store unfortunately makes things even more confusing as all the labels discussed earlier are found in abundance and may have toxic ingredients even though one thinks they are healthy. These labels include, but are not limited to, low-fat, low-carb, gluten-free, whole-grain, all-natural, and high-fiber.
Fat has its place in your diet and can be very healing, just make sure you stick to the good fats, those that are organic, and usually plant based like avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil, and avoid the bad fats that are usually meats that are high in saturated fats and man-made oils like most “vegetable” oils and margarine (more details later).
Sugar is another interesting nutrient that has a ton of controversy. We are told to eat low-sugar, which means low-carbohydrate diets in order to lose weight. The key to this isn’t the sugar itself, but rather the form of sugar you eat.
Sugar in its natural form, inside fruits and vegetables, is very good for the body and can be used by the body. Eating whole fruits and vegetables is a huge part of the meal plans that I will present later in this book. The key thing with this is to make sure it is in whole food form and not broken down and processed.
Where sugar takes a turn for the worse is when it is processed and refined down to the little white crystals that you are so used to seeing. Added sugar is everywhere and if you are not careful about reading the ingredients on labels, then you could be consuming a ton of added sugar in your diet on a daily basis.
Here is a brief list of added sugar food items: cakes, cookies, donuts, crackers, pop (soda), bread, ice cream, fruit juices, jellies, jams, some peanut butter, sauces, salad dressings, alcohol, coffee drinks (not black coffee), sports drinks, energy drinks, and pies.
To know if the food you are eating contains added sugar you just need to check the ingredient list for the word sugar… But wait, there are also a ton of names that are given to other forms of sugar that is not made from sugar cane but rather from corn. We actually consume more sugar from corn than we do from sugar cane.
A list of sugar or sugar derivatives to watch out for in the ingredients list of food is sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, barley malt, dextrose, maltose, agave, cane juice, cane syrup, fruit juice concentrates, honey, and rice syrup. This is a limited list as there are others, but these are some of the most common to look for.
Sugar intake has been linked to many of the diseases that plague Americans today, such as tooth decay, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels.
A side note on fruit juices. Juicing has become incredibly popular as well as drinking orange juice or other juices from your grocery store. Stay away from all fruit juices, as you are not getting any of the fiber of the fruit itself and are just consuming sugar and water, which negates most of the benefits of fruits and vegetables. Eliminating your daily orange juice could mean dropping 10-15 pounds in the next few months. Try it and see!
A key takeaway is to avoid anything in a box or can, as the likelihood of sugar being added is high, and eat fruits in whole food and not juice form. Another takeaway is that sugar is one of the leading causes of inflammation that leads to disease. This includes inflammation that contributes to dry eye disease.
Let’s dive into inflammation and what it causes.
Chapter 3 - Chronic (Long-Standing) Inflammation
Inflammation is a BIG deal. 98% of disease is some form of inflammation, so battling inflammation is a key component to battling your dry eye and other disease. An estimated 80% of visits to doctor’s offices are for issues relating to a chronic disease, which stems from chronic inflammation of the body. The CDC states that seven out of every 10 Americans die of chronic disease.
According to Dr. Mercola in the article How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health,
“The presence of inflammation is what makes most disease perceptible to an individual. It can and often does occur for years before it exists at levels sufficient to be apparent or clinically significant… One could also argue that without inflammation most disease would not even exist…. The fact that your immune system drives the inflammatory process in disease is well established. Unfortunately Western medicine offers little in the way of actual answers as to managing or overcoming the Autoimmune process… The typical approach to therapy is generally to suppress the immune response with Immunosuppressive agents or sometimes steroids (Restasis and Xiidra perform this way for dry eye). Both approaches are designed to reduce inflammation but neither stops the underlying disease processes or allows for damaged tissues to regenerate… Unless you turn OFF the actual cause of fire (inflammation), all you have done is postponed the inevitable and potentially destroyed more of the building (your body) in the process, by allowing the fire (inflammation) to smolder in a subclinical fashion.”
Let’s also look at the DEWS II (The Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society’s Dry Eye Workshop in 2017) definition of dry eye, in which it states that inflammation is one of the key reasons for dry eye.
“Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the ocular surface characterized by a loss of homeostasis of the tear film, and accompanied by ocular symptoms, in which tear film instability and hyperosmolarity, ocular surface inflammation and damage, and neurosensory abnormalities play etiological roles,”
Short Term Effects of Inflammation on the Body
Fatigue – feeling tired
Stiff neck and shoulder pain
Increased heart rate
Sweaty palms and feet
Long Term Effects of Inflammation on the Body
High Blood Pressure
Type 2 Diabetes
Psoriasis and Eczema
Digestive conditions such as colitis and diverticulitis
SHORT & LONG TERM
SHORT TERM EFFECT OF
LONG TERM EFFECT OF
LONG TERM EFFECT OF
Chapter 4 - How Do We Reduce Inflammation?
Susan Levin, MD, RD, staff dietician with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says:
“Women who follow vegan diets are often healthier than [those] who consume meat, thanks to eating lower levels of saturated fats (BAD omega-6’s) and cholesterol and higher levels of fiber, folate, and cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals.”
#1 Way To Reduce Inflammation: A Plant-Based Alkaline Diet
As quoted before, but worth repeating for the third time, Katherine Thurer, MD explains:
“Diet is HUGE! It has an enormous role in every aspect of our health across the board. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet is the number one thing I recommend to my patients.”
The quote above sums up the importance of eating to combat inflammation. Plants have an incredible alkalizing effect on the body, which fights inflammation. A diet high in whole plant foods can help rebalance the body’s estrogen levels since all that fiber helps rid the body of excess substances it doesn’t need, including detoxified hormones.
Plant-based diets can also reverse obesity, which is linked to diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Why You Should Give Up Meat…
We don’t necessarily mean you have to give up all meat. Our plant-based diet leans heavy on eating mostly vegetables, legumes (beans), and fruits, but eating WILD fish and ORGANIC, GRASS-FED, leaner meats like chicken on an occasional basis is okay as well.
We just want you to reduce your meat consumption to once a day, preferably at dinner (good), once a week (better), or once a month/not at all (best). If you decide to give it up completely, that will bring you the best results. Unfortunately, it can be very hard to maintain this, which is why we recommend eating it occasionally if your body craves it.
We eat about 90-95% plant-based, but occasionally feel like eating meat, so we do. I eat meat usually about once per week, and my wife, Dr. Jenna Zigler, eats it about once per month.
Stated previously, but worth repeating multiple times, going plant-based will help you ward off chronic disease, like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, while keeping you at a healthier weight for years to come.
Reducing animal product consumption will also help reduce your saturated fat intake, which is known to clog arteries, pores, and cause skin problems. Conversely, nutrients in tomatoes (like lycopene) help protect your skin from sun damage, while the vitamin C in sweet potatoes stimulates the production of collagen to reduce wrinkles.
But I Can’t Live Without Meat!! - MYTH
Before we dive into what to eat, please take note. If you have not eaten like this before your body has adapted to eating meat, dairy, and processed food. Much like a long term smoker goes through a detoxification, you will also go through a detoxification in which your body may develop rashes, headaches, shakes, phlegm, sleeplessness, constipation, diarrhea, or other forms of discomfort. YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS.
Don’t get overwhelmed with the lists of foods to eat and what foods to eliminate. We have included a simple meal preparation chart further along. Also, start adding healthier options into your diet and you will naturally eliminate the worst ones.
Let’s dive into what to eat.
I bet you didn’t see this one coming. A plant-based alkaline diet’s staple is… PLANTS! Sounds boring, right? WRONG! Plants are one of the most exciting things on this earth. Make sure to get plenty of variety with vegetables, as colors are your friends to get those phytochemicals we discussed earlier.
According to the CDC, 40 percent of Americans don’t eat a single fruit or vegetable every day. Not even one apple or piece of lettuce in a day.
Instead of thinking of vegetables as sides, they need to be your main dish. When picking vegetables to eat, focus on leafy green vegetables taking up most of your plate. The healthiest options are organic frozen vegetables then organic fresh vegetables. Frozen is healthier due to the fact it is flash frozen right after being picked and doesn’t have time to lose nutrients on the way to you.
What vegetables to eat (not an exhaustive list and be sure to choose organic): spinach, kale, mustard greens, watercress, hearts of romaine, raw broccoli, bok choy, swiss chard, collards, dandelion, boston lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, carrots, peppers, celery, tomato, asparagus, green beans, cucumber, zucchini, squash, and sweet potatoes.
Experiment with these exotic foods to add an extra super-power punch to your dishes. These include umeboshi plums, miso, parsnips, rutabaga, burdock root, daikon, lotus root, fermented vegetables, and sea vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are included in super-powered foods and are included in the above list.
Don’t be intimidated by the weird names. Sea vegetables are filled with vitamins and minerals and include nori, hijiki, arame, wakame, and kombu. They are also high in protein, help alkalize the blood, are a great detoxifying agent, reduce blood pressure, and inhibit cancerous growths.
Fermented veggies contain probiotics which are great for healing the gut (stomach, intestines, and colon). Probiotics help your body absorb nutrients, boost your immune system, and are great antioxidants.
Pickled vegetables include pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi. However DON’T buy these in the grocery aisle as they are full of preservatives, but instead look in the refrigerator section for unpasteurized products, which will contain many more probiotics and be better for you.
These can be added to any meal to add a little bit of flavor, tang, crunch, or salt.
Whole grains are considered one of the best forms of energy that we can eat. Believe it or not, these little gems are packed with protein, fiber, and other nutrients. They help us break down protein, cleanse and detoxify our system, protect our cells, release energy, and keep our hearts healthy. They are also rich in B-complex vitamins.
Whenever you see “enriched” on a label, that essentially means that the grain has been stripped of its nutrients and does nothing for us other than cause a spike in blood sugar and fat stores. Stick to whole grains and the list below.
Grains to eat include brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, sorghum, teff, and wild rice. Mix these up so you are not consuming the same grains every week. Start with quick cooking grains first to allow for easier digestion then move to the regular ones as your body adjusts.
Try to reduce or limit grains when trying to do a rapid detox or trying to lose weight. These are a great staple in your everyday diet, though.
Beans, beans, the magical fruit… Literally, these things are magic. There are a variety of ways to eat beans as well, such as in hummus, tacos, burritos, soup, chili, and more.
Beans to eat include black beans, chickpeas (garbanzo), cannellini beans, edamame. lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, split peas, white beans, and yellow beans.
Like grains above and sugary fruits below, try to reduce or limit beans when trying to do a rapid detox or trying to lose weight. These are also a great staple in your everyday diet, though.
Fruit does wonders for your body and contains vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. It can help protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, but must be consumed in moderation. We are going to divide fruit into three categories. Low sugar fruits can be consumed pretty much anytime and daily, but try to avoid them after lunch if possible. Moderate sugar fruits should be consumed minimally (one to five times per week) and never consumed after lunch. High sugar fruits should be avoided if at all possible and only consumed occasionally (one to three times per week) on days of high physical exertion or exercise days.
Also, avoid juices which do not contain the fiber of the fruit therefore just giving you a heavy dose of sugar.
Low sugar organic fruits to add to your diet include all berries like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, lemons, and limes. Like stated above, these can be consumed daily, but try to avoid them after lunch.
Moderate sugar organic fruits to add to your diet include granny smith apples, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, kiwi, melon, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, pomegranate, prunes, pumpkin, and tangerines. Like stated above, these should be consumed no more than five times per week and never after lunch.
High sugar organic fruits to limit in your diet and consume only on exercise days (limiting to a max of three per week) are bananas, dates, grapes, mango, papaya, pineapple, and watermelon.
#2 Way To Reduce Inflammation: AVOID these foods
Filling your diet with foods that are nutritionally deficient and have high saturated fats is the quickest way to derail the balance of your body. If your body is busy fighting the damage caused from foods like ice cream, hamburgers, and pepperoni pizza after meal times, then you will lack energy, feel depressed, and want to sleep due to all energy being exerted to the meal you just had.
If you’ve eaten terribly your whole life, it is not too late. Choose to turn the switch now to a healthier lifestyle and accept the challenges that come with it. Start eating healthy today and your body will heal your past wrongdoings, because of its incredible ability to heal.
This will be a tough challenge, so I always recommend a cheat day. This is 12 hours in which you can eat anything and everything you have been craving that whole week. Make it count, but then go back to the healthy, feel-better foods for the other 156 hours in your week.
Try this out for a test… For a full day make a green smoothie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Write down the answers to the following questions:
Did I feel tired all day?
Did I feel like I needed an afternoon nap?
Was I unmotivated to do my most important work at my job?
Did I poop?
Was I bloated?
Did I feel like drinking more caffeine to stay awake?
Did I experience cramping?
How did I feel the day after I ate all this?
Now eat eggs, bacon, and toast for breakfast, a hamburger and fries for lunch, and a steak with potatoes for dinner. Answer the same questions above.
So, What Foods Should You Avoid?
You have been eating the wrong foods for almost your whole life. However it is NOT your fault. It is the government, factory farms, and large companies that are to blame. These are the people that told you “Eat meat for strength,” “The other white meat,” “Drink milk for healthy bones,” “Got Milk?” and “Eat fortified bread and cereal for your vitamins.”
Meat, dairy, and processed foods like cereal and bread are toxic to your body. They’re clogging your arteries, raising your blood pressure, and pumping you full of cholesterol, toxins, hormones, and antibiotics that you don’t need. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a diet high in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as high in sugar-laden and fat-laden processed foods such as breads, cereals, chips, cakes, and cookies, cause an increase in the acidity of your body, which causes bodywide inflammation. Diets that are heavy in these sources (animal products and processed foods) cause 80% of cardiovascular disease, more than 33% of all cancers, and virtually all obesity and type 2 diabetes in this country.
Heart disease, for example, is the number one killer of women in the United States and is linked to high amounts of saturated fat in animal products. But it doesn’t just clog up the arteries around your heart (heart disease). It clogs up ALL your arteries, leading to strokes, cancer, and tissue death due to lack of oxygen.
First Food To Avoid: Meat
Before throwing this book in the trash because I told you to become a vegetarian, hold off until you read this whole section. Also, some meat consumption is okay, but limit it to once per day max and try having a meatless day, like meatless Mondays. If you do consume meat, make sure it is organic and free-range as this allows the animal to be in their healthiest environment and not grain fed an unnatural, corn infused diet.
Meat carries numerous hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, pollutants, bacteria, and viruses into your body. We store all this in our body fat, so it continues to fester inside our body even after it’s been digested. When you stop eating meat, you stop eating extra hormones, you prevent antibiotic overdose, avoid toxic pesticides, eliminate dangerous pollutants, and decrease exposure to scary viruses and bacteria.
The FDA and USDA allow factory farmers to use hormones to promote growth and milk production in their cattle. Two out of every three cattle raised for slaughter are treated with natural and synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone and other hormones linked to breast cancer and colon cancer in humans. These hormones cause a slew of problems and affect the entire food chain as they get passed on to humans that consume the animal product. The surrounding ecosystem, including plants and fish, soaks up the hormones as well, causing an imbalance in humans.
Due to the crowded nature of factory farms, livestock is literally standing in feet of its own fecal matter which is filled with bacteria and can cause widespread illness among the livestock. To combat this, factory farmers mix low dose antibiotics into the feed and water. 80% of all antibiotics in the US are sold to farmers for this purpose. Massive resistance to these antibiotics is a huge problem that could potentially extinct the human population (words for a different book). These are given to all livestock to prevent disease in these crowded and unsanitary conditions.
Factory farmers use toxic pesticides to ward off insects, kill weeds, and protect their financial investment. This is the same feed that is mixed with antibiotics and hormones to feed the livestock. We can usually wash most of this off our produce or completely avoid it with organic produce, but animals absorb the pesticides in the food they eat, which ends up in your dinner.
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are environmental chemicals from industrial processes, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides that have soaked in the water supply and soil. These POPs accumulate and continue moving up the food chain to you. 89% of our POP intake comes from meat sources and dairy, including eggs and fish. Some POPs like dioxins, are Group 1 carcinogens, and cling to animal fats. Even low level exposure has been shown to increase the incidence of infertility, diabetes, learning disabilities, immune system suppression, and lung problems.
Finally, according to the USDA, 70% of foodborne illness in the US is from meat that is contaminated with bacteria like E.coli, listeria, and campylobacter. This is most likely due to these animals being fed food that is not meant to be digested in their intestines (grain versus grass). Due to poor slaughtering practices, intestinal contents (poop) splash across meat and contaminate it.
Aren’t you excited for the cocktail of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, pollutants, and bacteria that are on the plate of beef, chicken or pork waiting for your consumption?
AVOID MEAT LIKE PORK
AVOID FISH LIKE SHRIMP
AVOID MEAT LIKE BACON
What About Fish?
Most fish have become too toxic to consume. Oceans are slowly becoming so polluted with garbage that fish are beginning to eat our garbage as part of their diet and it is showing up further up the food line when we consume the fish. Fish also contain high levels of mercury, organochlorines, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other toxins that can wreak havoc on your body.
Same as above with meat, eat fish that is in its most naturally occurring environment, which means buying wild caught fish only.
Omega-3 fatty acids are good at lowering the risk of heart disease, improving blood vessel function, and improving overall health of people with diabetes, cholesterol, and other diseases. However we can also get these health benefits from vegan omega-3-rich sources like walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseeds.
What About Eggs?
Eggs contain lutein, omega-3, and protein. They are an extremely viable source of all three, but there are plant-based substitutes that are even better like those listed above.
If you are going to eat eggs (and this is the one “meat” that we eat regularly), make sure, again, that the hen is allowed to be in their most natural environment, which means organic and free-range. You will not only benefit from the extra health, but the flavor is so much better as a result.
My final thoughts on meat: If you still, after reading that, want to eat meat or have to have it, consider only eating organic, free-range, and local meat where you know where it is coming from. Do we still eat meat? Yes, about once a week. If you feel like you have to eat it daily, limit it to dinner only.
I will challenge you to try a meatless week and see how you feel. Later on we will discuss different plant-based ideas for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner.
Meats to avoid at all costs
Pork and shellfish tend to be considered “unclean” animals and are bottom feeders in the animal kingdom, meaning they will eat pretty much anything. Try to avoid pork (bacon, sausage, ham) and shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp) at all costs.
Second Food to Avoid: Dairy
Dairy has a very high allergy rate, according to WebMD, and an estimated 30 million Americans having an allergy by age 20. This is an immune response to the lactose in milk which can develop rashes, bloating, gas, trouble breathing, and other allergy symptoms. Also, like meat, dairy contains growth hormones and antibiotics due to animal treatment explained above. Dairy has also been shown to cause inflammation which leads to life-threatening illness like MS, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and hyperthyroidism.
Consider that humans are the only animals on the planet that consume another species’ milk. Cow’s milk is a fairly recent addition to our diets. Milk protein is hard for humans to digest, if they can digest it at all, which triggers an autoimmune attack and inflammation in the body.
Dairy products are also our biggest sources of saturated fats and sugar. Lactose, which is the sugar in milk, contributes the same calorie load as soda ounce for ounce according to Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Dairy is also heavily processed and that begins with pasteurization. Pasteurization is the process of destroying pathogens in milk, which is necessary because it is stored and driven all over the world for consumption. The unfortunate truth of pasteurization is that it also denatures the healthy bacteria, fats, proteins, and vitamins, therefore eliminating the health benefits of milk.
Another processing component of dairy is homogenization, which is the process of breaking down the fat to make it smooth, and this makes the industry able to create skim milk, 1%, whole, etc…
If you want to consume milk, get it right from the source and not the grocery store. Find a local farmer to purchase milk fresh from the cow. You may want to even consider goat milk as an alternative if you find that you love drinking milk but have problems with typical cow milk.
Third Food to Avoid: Sugar
Sugar causes inflammation, makes you overweight, leads to diabetes, and is linked to cancer. How do you feel after consuming that sugary cookie, cake, or donut? I feel like garbage and I’m sure you do too. Headaches, mood swings, depression, and more are symptoms of sugar intake.
Don’t worry though, because nature makes its own sweets. I challenge you to throw away all the white, brown, and powdered sugar in your cabinet, along with all the foods that contain these harmful granules. After that, do not eat anything with added sugar for a week. If you get a craving, reach for a nice bowl of ripe organic berries or better yet, make some banana “nice” cream.
Refined sugar - along with dextrose, maltose, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, and agave - can take your body on a blood sugar roller coaster, which sends your pancreas into an insulin producing craze, which significantly increases your risk for diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is when your insulin production cannot keep up with the sugar overload and your pancreas may stop working. This sugar roller coaster will also cause depression, mood swings, and cravings for more sugar, creating a never ending cycle.
Artificial Sweeteners are chemical products made in a lab that have not been studied for the effects on the human body. Avoid these at all costs. This includes NutraSweet, Equal, Sweet ’N Low, and Splenda.
I always get asked, “If I want to add a little sweetness to food or drinks, what do I use?” This is a great question and this should be limited to once per day or eliminated altogether. Artificial sweeteners make you crave sweets even more. But if you want something a little sweeter try one of these remedies: banana puree, whole apple sauce, or Stevia.
Fourth Food to Avoid: Processed Foods
Any food that comes in a box, bag, or can, which has a mile long list of ingredients, that can sit unrefrigerated for days, is not good for you. If you have trouble pronouncing an ingredient, it is most likely not good for you.
Trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, became popular because they kept cakes, doughnuts, french fries, and cookies fresh longer and feeling less greasy. But these artificial oils are just a processed vegetable oil that is solidified. These lead to an increase in cholesterol and inflammation. Common culprits that you have heard of are margarine and Crisco (although, watch out for partially hydrogenated oil in peanut butter - it should only contain peanuts and maybe a little bit of salt!)
Excitotoxins, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), corn protein, glutamate, gelatin, wheat protein, yeast extract, and autolyzed yeast, are used for flavoring and can cause all sorts of problems like asthma, autism, ADD/ADHD, hyperactivity, and diabetes. The common culprits to avoid that often contain excitotoxins are frozen meals, canned soups, chips, crackers, sauces, dressings, candy, gum, soda, CHILDREN’s snack food and even some BABY food.
Fifth Food to Avoid: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), Pesticides, and Fertilizers
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are simply foods or organisms that have been altered from their natural state to help combat heavy pesticide use, extreme temperatures, resist disease, and/or to battle insects. GMO labeling is required in 64 countries, but the United States and Canada do not require it because of corporate pressure.
The most common GMO plants are corn, soybeans, cotton, potato, alfalfa, canola, papaya, squash, apple, and sugar beet. According to TIME magazine more than 90% of all soybean, cotton, and corn acreage in the US is used to grow genetically engineered crops.
20 years ago, no genetically modified foods existed.
So what is the big deal with GMOs?
Crops are not genetically modified for nutritional reasons. They’re modified for economic reasons such as faster growth, with pesticide resistance so they can add more pesticides during growth. Pesticide use continues to rise due to the creation of superweeds and hard-to-kill insects that are becoming resistant to pesticides.
Pesticides are designed to be toxic. Think about what they are used for. They are meant to kill weeds, pests, and insects, of which we are not that different from. If it is toxic to them, it is toxic to us, yet we consume thousands of pesticides daily, poisoning ourselves in the process, by not eating organic food.
Fertilizers are also used to provide much needed nutrients to soils that used to exist prior to the use of pesticides. Multiple USDA studies reveal that the food currently grown on America’s chemical-intensive factory farms contains drastically less vitamins and essential minerals than the food produced 50 years ago, when pesticides and fertilizers were not used as frequently.
Most food coming from factory farms is nutritionally deficient, laced with pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, harmful bacteria and viruses, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and toxic chemicals. Factory farms and traditional product from these farms are a hazard to your health.
How to Avoid GMOs, Pesticides, & Fertilizers
Simply buy organic or foods labeled non-GMO, know the farmer you're buying from (like at a farmer’s market), plant a garden, and eliminate the ten crops listed above from your diet. If you are going to consume the ten crops listed above, make sure they are organic. These include corn, soybeans, cotton, potato, alfalfa, canola, papaya, squash, apple, and sugar beet
For an easy start, go by the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. However, for the easiest way to think about this just always buy organic, which is what we do.
ALWAYS buy organic when it comes to the Dirty Dozen which includes strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, peppers and potatoes. Avoid these items if they are not organic.
The Clean Fifteen should still be bought organic if possible, but they have less pesticide residue compared to other produce. This list includes sweet corn, avocados, pineapple, cabbage, onions, sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and grapefruit.
Pesticide side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache, dizziness, weakness, confusion, excessive sweating, chills, thirst, chest pains, difficulty breathing, cramps in your muscles, and aches all over your body.
What about soy?
Soy is considered to be a great alternative to not eating meat. Tofu and other meat substitutes have been gaining significant popularity, but soy is very similar to corn as it is cheap to grow and easy to manufacture and process into pretty much anything we want.
When choosing to eat soy, stick to the organic, whole food variety (edamame) or eat fermented soy products like miso, soy sauce, and tempeh. Fermentation changes a food in a natural way, which is most similar to what our bodies would do with it. Try to avoid processed soy, such as tofu.
#3 Way To Reduce Inflammation: Give Your Cells Oxygen
We can all agree, we need oxygen to live. Try holding your breath for 30 seconds and depriving yourself of oxygen. What happens? Your body goes into a shocked state and starts to make every effort to take another breath.
What you are eating is possibly doing this to the rest of your body without you knowing it. You have 100 trillion cells in your body that rely on oxygen on a daily basis. The cells of your body are in constant regeneration, meaning they die and then new ones are created. As each new cell is built, the body seeks proper building materials from which to construct each cell. These building materials are what you put into your body.
The number one thing that determines how operational and healthy these cells will be is the fuel that they are given, which is also known as the food you eat.
The expression, “you are what you eat” will take on a whole new meaning after this section.
The cells in your body (each individual cell of the 100 trillion that you have) are like a city, according to E.G. Heinrich. It is full of activity. Water, oxygen, minerals, and amino acids (parts of protein) are the primary parts of the inside of the cell. This is where life-sustaining processes mainly occur. Cell membranes are the “walls” around the city that allow things in and out, while protecting the cells. These cell membranes are becoming unhealthy by the unhealthy oils you are eating. This includes trans fat (likely from the Western diet of fried and processed foods) and vegetable oils (corn, soybean, canola). These unhealthy oils are resistive to oxygen and therefore your cells are starved of oxygen, leading to a chronic inflammatory state.
Short term you may not notice a difference, but long term this creates diseases like heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis, dry eyes, and more. According to Brian Peskin, all disease involves a lack of oxygen at the cellular level. If oxygen is in the cell, you will have good health. Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Warburg stated that if a cell is denied 60% of its oxygen requirements, then cancer can occur.
The great news about this is that your cells regenerate every two days to six months (depending on which part of the body we’re discussing). Your body grows new cells in the eye every two days, new skin in six weeks, a new liver in eight weeks, and new nerve cells in a period of months. As each new cell is built, the body seeks proper building materials from which to construct the cell. If it cannot find these, it will create unhealthy cells, deprived of oxygen.
The body has an incredible ability to heal itself, IF provided with the proper nutrition and building blocks. Starting today, you can make changes that lead to a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle that isn’t riddled with disease and pain.
These changes include avoiding (at all costs) oxygen-resistive oils, like corn, canola, or soybean oil and consuming oxygen-enabling oils such as healthy omega-3 (high quality fish oil or flaxseed oil) and omega-6 (evening primrose oil or black currant seed oil).
Oils to Avoid are Modern Vegetable Oils (especially after being heated):
Fake Butter Substitutes (I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
Hydrogenated oils (check the ingredients list)
Trans Fat (check the nutritional information)
Foods to Avoid (and Avoid Unhealthy Omega-6’s):
All the oils listed above
ANY fried foods (they fry them in the oils above)
Salad dressing (they use the oils above) - substitute vinegar instead, like balsamic
Fast Food - chicken fingers, french fries, hash browns, chicken nuggets, McDonald’s
Pork products such as bacon, pork chops, pork loin, ham, etc
Limit cheeses that are NOT white, but some is okay (see below)
Oils to EAT to Help Reduce Inflammation
These foods with healthy oils listed below help rebuild your cells into healthier cells able to transfer oxygen and reduce inflammation and disease. These healthier oils can also cross the blood/brain and blood/eye barriers, which means they will benefit both the brain and eye, helping with dry eye.
When using an oil in cooking (it is never recommended to heat an oil above its smoking point), use either an organic, extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil; organic, extra virgin olive oil; or organic avocado oil. They key thing with cooking is to not let the oils get above their smoking point. Once an oil is smoking it has been damaged, and damaged oil causes damage to your body. When an oil is damaged, the healthy fat molecules are broken down and they form free radicals, which are cancerous.
If you are already a healthy individual (be honest), you should be getting a 2:1 ratio of healthy omega-6 to healthy omega-3. However, if you suffer from numerous diseases, are overweight, or eat terribly, you should start by shifting your diet first (which we’ll discuss more in later sections) and start with a ratio of 4:1 healthy omega-6 to healthy omega-3 (some suggest even 8:1 to combat all that “bad” fat you have been eating).
If you start to pay attention to this ratio and you can get it to 4:1, then you will be more than doubling the amount of oxygen that moves from your blood to your cells, which will decrease pain, inflammation, and disease.
The key with this ratio is to make sure the sources of omega-6 are healthy, which are listed below. The typical North American diet consists of up to 50:1 UNhealthy omega-6 to omega-3. This causes increased inflammation, heart disease, blood vessel blockage, stroke, diabetes, and more.
This is NOT a short term fix, though, and requires a lifestyle change. What you are doing now is not working and causing you a tremendous amount of pain... FIX IT. It is not up to a doctor to fix your problem, it is on you! Below I list examples of healthy omega fatty acids for you to include in your diet.
Healthy Vegetarian Omega-6’s
Avocado (15:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio)
Flaxseed oil (or ground)
Evening primrose oil
Black currant seed oil
Almonds (Almond butter)
Sunflower seeds (Sunflower seed butter)
Healthy Vegetarian Omega-3’s
Avocado (15:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio)
Flaxseed oil (or ground)
Evening primrose oil
Black currant seed oil
Almonds (Almond butter)
Sunflower seeds (Sunflower seed butter)
Canned grape leaves
Healthy Meat Omega-6
Organic, free-range eggs
Organic cheese - try to stick to WHITE cheese such as cottage cheese, parmesan, goat cheese, gruyere
Organic whole milk
Organic, grass-fed butter
Organic, grass-fed, free-range beef
Organic, grass-fed, free-range poultry
Healthy Meat Omega-3
High quality wild caught fish (make sure it’s wild)
Wild Alaskan salmon
Wild caught tuna
Wild caught sardines
#4 Way To Reduce Inflammation: Increasing Vitamins and Essential Minerals with Whole Foods and Supplementation
Whenever you can eat a vitamin or mineral in a whole foods diet it is a much better option than taking a supplement. A supplement is there to do just as the name suggests... supplement, or enhance something else when added to it. You should take supplements as an addition to an already healthy diet as described above.
The world of supplements can be very confusing. There are supplements for weight loss, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, sex drive, dry eye, and pretty much everything else under the sun. The goal of this guide is to point you in the right direction as to what is needed to live a full balanced diet. Stay away from the gimmicky supplements for weight loss, fat burning, and other “in the moment” supplements your friends or coworkers tell you about.
Supplements are not a well regulated industry and should be cautiously approached. Pretty much anyone can package, label, and sell a supplement on the market today. Look on the label or ask the company if they are third party tested, pass clinical good manufacturing practices, and manufactured in an FDA registered facility. All products should undergo rigorous testing before, during, and after production. Third party testing is performed to ensure that all supplements contain the specified ingredients and avoid unwanted chemicals, toxins, and materials.
We are asked all the time, which supplements we recommend for [fill in the blank]. Instead of giving you a list of supplements that we recommend or a list of supplements that we take, I am going to talk about the benefits of supplements that you should be taking and whole foods ways of taking them. Also, due to the fact that this list of supplements that we take and recommend could change over time, I didn’t want to make a list of them in this book. We keep an updated list at www.RethinkingDryEye.com under the Supplementation section.
Multivitamins are one of the most common vitamins taken in the world today and we believe that everyone should be taking a multivitamin. But which one to take is the big question. Drones of individuals turn to this “one pill” in order to “keep themselves healthy.” Like we discussed previously, though, supplements are made to complement an already healthy lifestyle. And also as discussed earlier, not all supplements are the same.
Multivitamins are meant to be the filler for what you miss in your everyday diet. For the most part, your body will excrete any excess vitamins and minerals it does not need. I am guessing you need this bridge to get all your nutrients since 75% of people worldwide don’t get their five daily servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and five is still too low in my mind (hooray, green smoothies!)
Multivitamins will help where your diet falls short and will help increase eye health, bone health, and blood health (preventing things like anemia), as well as a possible connection to heart disease and cancer.
Taking a once daily “pellet” or a one-a-day might not be the most beneficial vitamin as it is heavily compacted and hard to digest and get all the nutrients out of that pellet. Instead I like to opt for a multivitamin that is spread over the day. I personally take half my multivitamins in the morning and half in the evening.
If you couldn’t tell by now, we love our greens. A green smoothie has been one of the most beneficial staples and additions to our diet since we started it in 2015. We have also seen the huge impact that this has had on our patients and customers in the dry eye community. The green smoothie that we make every morning, and sometimes for lunch, contains kale, spinach, or other greens (we also add a greens superfood powder to our smoothie, in addition to our leafy greens).
A greens powder will give you a massive boost in energy, metabolism, immune support, and detox your entire system. The energy comes without the crash that coffee or sugary soft drinks give you. The blends of fruits and vegetables gives you a potent boost of micronutrients that are absorbed quickly. They also support your immune system and help with detoxification through vitamins and minerals. Greens will help you focus better than ever before and give you a better attitude.
It also isn’t just for your smoothies. You can mix it with only water and take it for a quick greens kick on the go. Or you can even put a scoop in oatmeal, yogurt, soups, or any other dishes you are making.
Something to note is that when you first start using a greens powder, or start eating your green smoothies, you will go through three phases in the first month or so. I call this my 21 day greens adjustment period. The first seven days you might have unbearable stomach pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. Sounds fun right?
PUSH THROUGH THIS!
Days seven through 14 will be uncomfortable. You may notice some stomach irritation and bloating, but nothing too extreme. Your bowel movements will start to become more regular and you will start going at almost the same time everyday, without the help of coffee and caffeine.
After day 14, you become unstoppable. Your body will crave whatever you feed it. Feed it pizza and chips daily and you will crave and eat pizza and chips daily. Feed it broccoli daily and you will crave broccoli. After day 14 you will begin to crave your greens and need them on a daily basis.
We have done extensive research and trialed many multivitamins to settle on the supplements we take. To see the multivitamin and greens superfood powder that we take, visit www.RethinkingDryEye.com and look under the Supplementation tab.
Leaky gut and healthy bacteria have been talked about quite a bit lately, with good merit. The bacteria in our gut is so beneficial for helping us absorb nutrients, digest food, and fight infection. Probiotics can also help with diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, and even urinary tract infections.
You can get healthy probiotics by supplementation and by eating fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, or fermented vegetables (like refrigerated sauerkraut). When supplementing, you want to find a high quality supplement that contains billions, with a B, of live cultures and take this supplement first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that enhances healthy vision, skin, bones and other tissues in the body. Vitamin A performs as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent and plays an important role in the preservation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other vital organs. Maintaining a healthy balance of vitamin A is essential to good health.
The American diet keeps most Americans from experiencing vitamin A deficiency. However, some health problems and lack of nutrients in our meals and snacks can lead to low levels of vitamin A and other nutrients, and some people are more prone to vitamin A deficiency than others. A vitamin A deficiency is directly linked to dry eyes. Cutting back on food to slim down is usually how most people develop a vitamin A deficiency, and it is more prevalent in undeveloped countries.
The surface of your eye has a clear lubricating membrane called the tear film that nourishes and protects your eye. Vitamin A deficiency can cause cell mutations within the cornea, disturbing the tear film and resulting in dry, irritated eyes. You may experience surface irritation, redness, and moments of blurred vision. Long-term deficiency may also cause damage to the retina, which contributes to vision changes and can lead to vision loss.
Fixing a vitamin A deficit is pretty simple...eat more whole foods with vitamin A and take a multivitamin with vitamin A in it. The best foods for vitamin A are leafy green veggies, sweet potatoes and, of course, carrots.
There has been some effort to add vitamin A to eye drops in order to have a quicker effect on dry eyes. But, as of yet, there isn't any evidence that suggests that this actually works.
Speaking of vitamin A, there are derivatives such as retinoids that can actually worsen dry eyes if used in large doses (think Accutane and over-the-counter retinol skin creams).
Animal Food Sources High in Vitamin A
Eating foods rich in vitamin A can help to prevent dry eyes or alleviate them as long as the damage to your eye is minimal. Incorporating some of the following foods could help increase your intake of vitamin A. Animal food sources are not water-soluble and are stored in body fat. Therefore, overconsumption of vitamin A through animal food sources can become toxic, so be careful with the following!
Also make sure that, if you choose to eat these meat sources, they are organic, grass-fed sources.
Plant Sources High in Vitamin A
Plant sources are not stored in body fat and are therefore less problematic. The following plant-based foods are rich in vitamin A and are wonderful for treating dry eyes.
Cayenne pepper or chili powder
Vitamin A is a key nutrient to optimal vision and general health. Be sure to intake the amount you need without over doing the animal sources, or, even better, stick with the plant sources and make sure your multivitamin has vitamin A in it.
The B-Complex of vitamins are antioxidants, mood stabilizing, and neuroprotective. Methylated versions of vitamin B supplements should be used, such as folate instead of folic acid, because the nutrient is used by the body instead of broken down.
Low Vitamin B6 is associated with inflammation, according to WebMD. This can be found naturally in legumes and vegetables. Studies show that people with the highest inflammation have the lowest levels of vitamin B6 in their blood.
Your body excretes any excess B vitamins, therefore it is never retained.
Vitamin D and D3
Most people are actually vitamin D deficient. It is not found in the food we eat in as much abundance as before, and we do not get as much sunshine as we used to. Exposure to the sun will help your vitamin D deficiency, but it will probably not completely resolve it, even in areas that have loads of sunshine all year long.
Eating whole foods with vitamin D also helps, but supplementation with vitamin D is usually recommended. Foods to eat include fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms. Supplementation is almost always recommended if you are vitamin D deficient. The recommended daily amount to take is 800 IUs, according to the National Institute of Health, but most can take up to 4,000 IU safely.
Vitamin D has been shown to inhibit the inflammatory cascade, therefore reducing inflammation. Vitamin D helps with calcium and phosphorus absorption therefore a deficiency can show up as bone disease such as rickets and osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency is also a known cause for dry eyes. Lower quantities of vitamin D effect tear function that needs vitamins to function properly. Other than that, Vitamin D improves the coating on the surface of the eye and helps to protect it from environmental factors.
Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E
Free radicals are found abundantly in the body. Free radicals wreak havoc on our body causing cancer, macular degeneration, inflammation, dry eye, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. Our body can fight free radicals on their own, but with the help of antioxidants the battle is supercharged.
The best way to increase antioxidants is through whole foods, such as colorful vegetables like red, yellow, and orange peppers, carrots, kale, spinach, and pretty much any vegetable.
Vitamin C plays a vital role in relieving inflammation, boosting your immune system, and protecting your joints. Your body excretes any excess vitamin C therefore it is never retained. Vitamin E helps prevent symptoms of dry eye, macular degeneration, cataracts, and damage to the eye from diabetes. It also helps with heart disease, mental decline, menopause symptoms, and some cancers.
This section is earlier in this book, but worth repeating here.
Phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, are found in plants and act like shields that soak up invaders and keep them from harming the plants’ tissues. Our bodies cannot fight against these free radicals, industrial pollutants, or toxins hiding in animal foods. These cause our bodies and tissues to start breaking down, which can lead to Alzheimer’s, dementia, cataracts, hardening of the arteries, cancer, emphysema, and arthritis.
If we eat plants, they lend us their powers to fight these toxins. Each plant has its own fighting ability, which is why a variety of plants is key to your diet.
A side bonus of phytochemicals is that they help with wrinkles by protecting your skin from damage and helping your skin produce more collagen. Whole grains are packed with B-complex vitamins which help with glowing skin.
Carotenoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers their bright orange, yellow, and red hues. Other plant-based foods with carotenoids include spinach, kale, corn, squash, kiwi, and grapes.
A few types of carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene, play a critical role in maintaining eye health. They benefit our eyes by guarding against vision loss, while improving one’s ability to see colors and fine detail. Additionally they also play a role in protecting our eyes against damaging effects of UV light we encounter outdoors as well as blue light from our computers, phones, tablets, and TVs. The lutein and zeaxanthin pigments in foods and through supplementation can also help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
Our company has a few options for phytochemical and antioxidant supplementation. We have a supplement that contains just lutein and zeaxanthin (Heyedrate Lutein and Zeaxanthin), which is great if you are eating a well balanced diet and take a great multivitamin. If you need a little extra help in the vitamin department and are worried about macular degeneration, then our Heyedrate Ocular Health Formula would be better for you as it contains some added ingredients to help protect the macula and retina inside your eyes. To check these out, look under the supplementation section at www.RethinkingDryEye.com.
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals needed by the body, yet it is the most lacking mineral in the human diet. Unfortunately with the current farming practices, it has been stripped from the soil so much that we now need to supplement. A study of almost 4,000 postmenopausal women shows that 100 mg of magnesium per day was associated with a significant reduction in various inflammatory markers.
Magnesium deficiency can lead to neurological malfunction, irregular heart rhythm, macular degeneration, weak bones, and muscle cramping and spasms. Magnesium is a vital part of your diet and needs to be prioritized as one of the most essential minerals that you need to function.
A good way to help replace essential minerals is supplementation. Another way is replacing all the table salt in your house with Celtic Sea Salt, which contains 82 trace minerals.
Nuts and vegetables are also a great way to increase your essential minerals consumption. These foods include: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnut, Brazil nuts, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, peppers, sea vegetables, onions, asparagus, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, turnips, and beans.
Supplementation can take many forms with magnesium such as a pill, liquid, or powder form. To make it more readily absorbed in the body, magnesium should be coupled with a chelator (bound to an amino acid) and in a form such as magnesium glycinate, malate, and taurate.
Other essential minerals to consider in your supplementation are calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, and chromium. A great multivitamin will cover most of these for you including the one that we recommend at
Omega-3 is a fatty acid that should be a core part of your diet. The American diet consists of way too many unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids. We discussed this in depth in the previous chapter on healthy fats, so go back and read that to recollect the importance of omega-3 fatty acid.
Having a healthy level of omega-3 can prevent a long list of severe diseases as well. Things like prostate cancer, mental degeneration, heart attack, strokes, epilepsy, insomnia, joint pain, and vision loss can sometimes be prevented with omega-3 supplementation.
There are two ways to treat an omega-3 deficiency. The first is by including oily fish in your daily diet. Fish eat algae to obtain a certain acid called Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is the most commonly known omega-3 fatty acid.
However, there might be some of you that don't like fish. If you dislike fish, you should move on to the second way of obtaining this important omega; omega-3 supplements. Now that we're on the topic of omega-3 supplements, we should talk about how all omega 3 supplements are not created equal.
While there are varied studies that say anywhere from 500 mg all the way up to 4,000 mg per day, I think the real answer is that it depends. It depends on how healthy you are and how healthy your diet is. If you eat a lot of processed junk food, than your unhealthy omega-6 is going to be much higher and therefore you need to take closer to the 4,000 mg of omega-3 per day. Conversely if you are a pretty healthy individual that does not eat a lot of processed, unhealthy omega-6 than you can do 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg per day.
We recommend most of our patients start out at 2,000 mg per day for the first few months as they are adjusting their diet, and then they can reduce to 1,000 mg per day. Talk with your doctor about the right dose for you.
Eating a well balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, you will not have much of a vitamin and mineral deficiency, but adding supplementation will help ensure that you meet the recommended daily dose needed to fully thrive and eliminate your dry eye and other disease symptoms.
There is a such thing as too much of a good thing. Try to stick with the recommended dose for most vitamins as some can become toxic in your system if taken too much. Also consult your natural healthcare practitioner if you are unsure about what to take.