Part 2 of a series on how to use supplement and behavior-based plan to treat common maladies. To read the detailed plan, order supplements, or download the patient resource sheets, go here to create a free patient account at Fullscript by entering your name and email address: Dr. Mark McDonald’s Fullscript dispensary.

I tell my patients that sleep, diet, and exercise represent the foundation of good health, both physical and mental. Like a three-legged stool, even if one component is wobbly or missing, the whole structure collapses. Many people believe that the road to a good diet is paved with organic food. A better path is anti-inflammatory food.

Your body is made in the kitchen, not the gym. And you will not build the body you want from organic food. When I hear the word “organic,” I think “expensive.” On average, food labeled “organic” costs 40% more than the equivalent conventional option. The “organic” designation is no different than the “kosher” stamp on products marketed to orthodox Jews. I live in a neighborhood full of people who eat only kosher food. Why do they do this? Is it because the food is safer or healthier than non-kosher food? No—kosher food buyers choose it to observe the precepts of their religion, in effect paying a mark-up to receive the blessing of a religious cartel in order to feel good about themselves. In the same way, organic food is neither safer nor healthier than non-organic food. It is marketed to the secular who pay a mark-up to receive the blessing of a secular cartel in order to feel good about themselves. Buying organic food is simply virtue-signaling.

Don’t believe me? Watch this five-minute PragerU video by Bjorn Lomborg on organic food. You can also read about the Stanford University School of Medicine meta-analysis comparing health benefits of organic vs conventional food. It found no difference between the two in either safety or nutrition. The reason is that the word “organic” doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean no pesticides. It doesn’t mean fresh. It doesn’t mean free of bacteria or parasites. Organic food costs more than conventional food, but it isn’t better for you. Buying organic food is a waste of money, even if it makes you feel better.

If we can’t use organic food labels as a reliable method of identifying healthy food, what can we use? It is now widely accepted that nearly every disease—cancer, stroke, diabetes, asthma and COPD—follows an inflammatory pathway. Inflammation can be caused by emotional stress, a harsh physical environment, lack of exercise, or poor food choice. Choosing foods that pose a low inflammatory risk, combined with anti-inflammatory supplements, provides a robust counter to developing physical illness. This approach is much safer and more effective than the common recommendation by medical doctors to use drugs like statins and Lipitor to prevent disease.

Here is a checklist to follow in choosing high-nutrient, anti-inflammatory foods:

  1. Choose fresh foods. The more time a perishable food spends on the shelf, the more nutrients it loses, including its anti-inflammatory properties. Surprisingly, some foods are healthier in their fresh-frozen versions: Blueberries contain more bio-available antioxidants once they’re frozen.
  2. Avoid processed foods. Food loses nutrients while gaining additives and preservatives at every stage of processing, provoking inflammatory responses when consumed. Best to buy foods in their pure form or with as few added ingredients as possible.
  3. Avoid foods with added sugar. All forms of added sugar—sucrose, fructose, agave, cane sugar—increase inflammation and the risk of developing insulin resistance (pre-diabetes). Agave, marketed as the “natural and organic” alternative to sugar, is exceptionally unhealthy: It contains a higher percentage of fructose than high fructose corn syrup. If you want to add sugar to your food or drinks at home, use a small amount of fresh, unprocessed honey instead. Natural honey actually reduces inflammation and insulin resistance.
  4. Limit simple carbohydrates like rice, grain, and pasta. Unless you are immediately burning calories through high-intensity exercise, these foods will be quickly converted to sugar and then to fat, leading to weight gain. Processed grains, such as bleached white flour, can provoke gut inflammation as well.
  5. Avoid seed oils (canola, corn, soybean, safflower, palm, and sunflower oils) for cooking. Commonly referred to as “vegetable oils,” they oxidize over time at room temperature and rapidly when heated, leading to cardiovascular damage and an increased risk of cancer. Use olive / coconut / avocado / palm oil, butter, or lard instead.
  6. Eat more healthy fats and proteins. Invert the food pyramid: Everything about it is upside down. Butter, whole milk, cheese, animal fat, and red meat do not cause obesity or heart disease; rather, they provide essential nutrients for every organ system (including the brain), promote satiety, and reduce cravings for unhealthy simple carbohydrates like sugar, corn chips, bread, rice, and pasta.

What about antibiotics and hormones? The possible health risk of eating meat from animals that have been given antibiotics or hormones is hotly debated and not at all clear. Many Americans are unaware, though, that since June 11, 2023, antibiotics can no longer be given to livestock without a valid prescription from a licensed veterinarian. Additionally, hormones have long been prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in dairy cows, pigs, and chickens. The labels “hormone-free milk” or “chickens raised without hormones” means nothing more than the labels on bottled water that read “cholesterol free.” Finally, although they cost two to three times as much as conventional alternatives, “cage-free eggs” or “free-range chickens” are no more nutritious or safe to eat. In fact, the best eggs and chicken meat come from your own backyard or the yard of a neighbor—where they are produced from or live in cages.

To support a truly healthy diet—rather than simply an “organic” one—I recommend including supplements that reduce inflammation in the gut, brain, and throughout the body: curcumin, probiotics, and concentrated fish oils. Below is a link to my anti-inflammatory diet and supplement plan I provide my patients. I am now sharing it with my Substack subscribers. To access the plan, you must first create a free patient account at Fullscript by entering your name and email address: Dr. Mark McDonald’s Fullscript dispensary.