What I Learned in 1995 Forever Shaped My View on Cancer and Chronic Disease
"Dr. Joseph Mercola has been a shining beacon of health wisdom and freedom for decades. Fat for Fuel is a masterpiece of cutting-edge research and practical application."
— Christiane Northrup, M.D.
New York Times best-selling author of Women’s Bodies,
Women’s Wisdom and Goddesses Never Age
Surprisingly, my seven years of medical school and family practice residency never addressed the root cause of common chronic illness.
All I was taught was how to manage symptoms through the use of pharmaceuticals and medical procedures.
Then, in 1995, my understanding of chronic disease took a quantum leap. I was introduced to Dr. Ron Rosedale and his breakthrough views on clinical metabolic biochemistry.
In a nutshell, Dr. Rosedale taught me that defective metabolic processes in your mitochondria, not your genetic makeup, cause cancer and nearly all other chronic diseases, including accelerated aging.
And what causes these faulty processes?
Insulin and leptin receptor resistance from too many net carbs and activation of the mTOR metabolic signaling pathway by too much protein.
Let me put this into more easily understood terms…
When you eat too many sugars and carbs without fiber, along with too much protein, you can ignite a cascade of metabolic events that includes:
- Widespread inflammation and cellular damage, especially your mitochondria, or your cells’ power factories
- Faster aging and a greater risk of all cancers from the activation of your body’s most important signaling pathway from eating excess protein
- An increase in insulin resistance that can progress to prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes because your cells have lost their ability to respond to insulin effectively
- Overeating due to the loss of control over your appetite and knowing when you’re “full”
- An inability to lose weight because your body is holding on to fat instead of burning it for fuel
So how can you take what I’ve learned and put it to good use? That’s the idea behind my new book, Fat for Fuel – to help you take control over obesity and chronic disease, including advanced cancer.
Why Cancer Is One of the Most Manageable Diseases We Know of Today
“Once you realize what cancer is, that it's a metabolic disease, you can take charge of those kinds of things. In other words, getting cancer is not God's will. It's not bad luck."
— Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D.
I believe, along with many of the experts I interviewed for Fat for Fuel, more than 90 percent of cancer cases are either preventable or treatable.
That should be very welcome news to most people – even if you’re not currently fighting cancer or have a friend or family member who is.
But here’s something that I think should be even more reassuring...
Many people don’t realize that their chances of developing cancer are slim if their mitochondria are healthy and functional.
Researcher Dr. Peter Pederson from Johns Hopkins, recently made a fascinating discovery:
One characteristic that cancer cells share with one another is that they have a radically reduced number of fully functional mitochondria.
Maybe you remember learning about mitochondria in science class...
These tiny organelles, originally thought to have evolved from bacteria, exist in nearly all your cells. Most cells have several thousands of them, and can comprise up to 50 percent of your cells’ volume!
Your mitochondria are truly your body’s lifeline. They supply over 90 percent of your body’s energy needs by converting the food you eat and the air you breathe into usable energy.
Powerful Strategies for Repairing and Nurturing Your Mitochondria
As you age, your body produces fewer mitochondria, so that makes taking care of the ones you have all the more important.
When a significant percentage of your mitochondria stops functioning properly, your health can falter and leave you more vulnerable to cancer and other chronic diseases.
However, we now know there are powerful strategies that can repair and improve the health of your mitochondria.
What I believe to be the most valuable strategy for repairing your mitochondria is the main subject of my newest book:
Fat for Fuel: A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brain Power, and Increase Your Energy.
You see, everything you eat affects your mitochondria – positively or negatively.
When you make food choices that boost your mitochondrial health, you reduce the risk of damage to your cells’ genetic material or DNA that can lead to disease or cancer.
In Fat for Fuel, here’s just a sampling of what you will learn:
- How to trigger powerful changes in your health in just a few days
- How to avoid feeding cancer cells’ mitochondria while repairing your healthy mitochondria
- How to starve out cancer cells (and not harm your healthy cells!)
- How to permanently shed unwanted pounds and inches faster than you ever thought possible
- How to feel sharper mentally and improve your memory just by changing how and when you eat
- How to boost your physical stamina and endurance
- How to eliminate excessive hunger pangs and food cravings
- How to explain to your friends, family, and doctor exactly what you’re doing and get their unwavering support
- How to monitor your progress and find the least expensive supplies
Beyond Ketogenic Diets: The Eating Program That Can Heal Your Mitochondria
“A truly revolutionary program. . . Fat for Fuel will change the way you think about nutrition and your health.”
— Leo Galland, M.D.
Author of The Allergy Solution
Let me be very clear... you don’t need to be sick, overweight, or have cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer’s to benefit from the information in Fat for Fuel.
This book is designed for anyone wishing to improve his or her health. There’s tremendous value in repairing and nurturing damaged mitochondria just to feel more energetic and to help live a long life free from disease.
However, the sicker you are or the older you are (because you now have fewer mitochondria), the more you stand to benefit from the strategies I present in Fat for Fuel.
My program, Mitochondrial Metabolic Therapy, or MMT, is a system of eating that aims to heal the root cause of chronic disease and aging – and your mitochondria themselves.
It does this by shifting your metabolism from burning glucose as your primary fuel to burning fat instead.
When you replace carbs with fat for fuel, potentially:
- You optimize your mitochondrial function
- You turn on your body’s ability to burn body fat
- Your metabolism runs more efficiently
- You enjoy long-lasting energy and stamina
- Your brain functions more efficiently and you feel sharper mentally
Glucose is a “dirty” fuel, while fat burns much cleaner. So by replacing carbs with healthy fats, your cells’ mitochondria are less likely to suffer damage from free radicals that are caused by reactive oxygen species or ROS.
Since 90 percent or more of the total ROS in your body are produced within your mitochondria, these fragile components of your cells are continually under siege when there are excessive ROS. Some are needed for crucial cellular functions, but too many cause devastating damage.
Previously, it was thought excessive ROS could be addressed by taking antioxidants, but we now know that this was a flawed strategy and it is far better to prevent their production by eating an optimal fuel mixture.
MMT can help your cells’ mitochondria reach the “Goldilocks” zone for producing ROS — not too much and not too little, but just the “right” amounts for healthy cellular and mitochondrial function.
Why You Need Mitochondrial Metabolic Therapy (MMT)
What many people may not realize is that switching over to fat-burning is not an instantaneous “aha” moment. Nor is it a one-size-fits-all plan.
That may be why, if you’ve ever tried a ketogenic diet, you weren’t able to reach or remain in ketosis long enough to produce significant health effects.
My MMT program is a highly customizable, multi-step process that can take a few days or as long as a few months to become fully fat-adapted. Everyone is different.
Fat for Fuel walks you through the complete step-by-step process. You learn which foods and practices work best for you.
My goal is to help you get there smoothly and as easily as possible, identifying and removing potential challenges ahead of time that can derail you off course.
Here are some of the valuable insights you’ll gain from Fat for Fuel to help you succeed:
- The 7 most common symptoms to expect while shifting to fat burning and simple ways to ward them off
- How to use timing and spacing of meals to propel your results
- The weight loss bonus that will hook you in your first few days on MMT
- How to overcome emotional roadblocks that may arise before and during MMT
- One simple way to tell if you’re exercising too much (or too little) while adjusting to fat burning
- The 7 most common challenges people face when adopting a fat-burning eating plan and how to face them head on
- How to customize MMT for you so you’ll want to continue it for life (although you’ll most likely be convinced that long-term is for you once you experience how much better you feel when eating this way!)
- Why your brain loves ketones (Hint: it has to do with how easily they are whisked across your blood-brain barrier into your brain tissue)
- Why it’s easier to lose weight on a ketogenic diet (and especially my MMT plan) and keep it off
- The greatest tool I’ve found to help keep on track, pinpoint nutritional deficiencies in my diet – and to stay motivated
- The effective and inexpensive long-term alternative to blood tests for monitoring ketones
- My guidelines for long-term optimum fat-burning, including the ideal amount of protein to eat at any meal to avoid activating mTOR
- The other side of eating that most people ignore, yet it’s equally important for your body to function at its best (it happens to be the oldest dietary intervention in the world!)
- Why taking too many antioxidants can be dangerous and actually aid the survival of cancer cells
- The popular cooking oils that can harm your cell membranes and threaten your mitochondrial health
- Why it may be a big mistake to follow your conventional doctor’s advice about fat in your diet
Why MMT Is One of the Most Powerful Strategies for Lasting Weight Loss and Much More...
“Beautifully lays out the history—and the myths—behind the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet that has been at the root of so much illness and death in the last half-century.”
— Ron Rosedale, M.D.
As a healthy child, you had healthy metabolic flexibility. When you ate a limited amount of sugar and net carbs (carbs minus the fiber) and greater amounts of healthy fat, you were easily able to burn clean burning fats as your primary fuel.
After eating a high net-carb diet, your body loses its ability to switch effortlessly from glucose-burning to fat-burning. And, if you’re like the majority of adults, your health — especially your metabolic health — has suffered as a result.
One visual gauge of your current metabolic health is the amount of body fat you’re carrying, especially around your waistline. This is largely unhealthy visceral fat.
You need a certain amount of body fat to protect your organs, but too much puts you at higher risk for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
By making MMT part of your everyday life, you can regain that long-lost metabolic advantage. And that puts you squarely into control of your health – and weight – like no other step you could possibly take!
Similar to a ketogenic diet, MMT is a high-fat, low-carb, and moderate-protein eating plan. But unlike a ketogenic diet, it emphasizes on high-quality, unprocessed whole foods.
Since your body was designed to run more efficiently on fats than on carbs, when you successfully shift over to what’s called nutritional ketosis, you optimize your mitochondrial function and your body’s ability to burn body fat.
While fitting into your favorite skinny jeans is certainly a valuable side effect of MMT, my plan’s primary aim goes much deeper – to heal your metabolism at the cellular level and ward off the development of most common chronic diseases and premature aging, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Atherosclerosis and heart disease
And of course, that includes the core causes of obesity!
Please Don’t Confuse Paleo With My Advanced Version of Ketogenic...
Paleo diets are one of the hottest eating trends today. Many people claim eating that way helps them feel more energetic. Others swear by them for weight loss.
But it’s not the same thing as MMT...
While there are many advantages to the Paleo diet – it’s certainly a big step above the typical American diet – it doesn’t initially control net carbs.
Paleo restricts grains, dairy, starches, and processed foods, but the diet allows some starchy vegetables, fruits, and sugars like honey and coconut sugar.
And it encourages protein from meat, seafood, and nuts and seeds – lots of it! Many people who follow the Paleo diet consume far too much protein.
Too much sugar and too much protein can make it impossible to maintain a state of ketosis, especially if you are new to nutritional ketosis.
Eating too much protein can also activate your body’s most important signaling pathway – mTOR, or the mammalian target of rapamycin – and boost your risk of cancer. Your mTOR pathway organizes all the nutrient sensors in your body to regulate metabolism, growth, cell differentiation, and cellular survival.
Researchers have discovered that low-protein diets extend lifespan in flies because they improve mitochondrial function and inhibit mTOR.
MMT or my version of the ketogenic diet provides very precise protein recommendations to help avoid activating mTOR and, at the same time, restore health to your mitochondria.
With the guidance I provide in Fat for Fuel, you’ll know how to determine the exact amount of protein that’s right for you!
Just as Important as What You Eat Is What You Don’t Eat
“Fat for Fuel . . . reveals truths the food industry won’t tell you about the food you eat and starts you on a path to radically transforming your health.”
— Mark Hyman, M.D.
#1 New York Times best-selling author of Eat Fat, Get Thin and
director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we should eat that it’s easy to forget the other side that’s equally important for your mitochondrial health. And that’s not eating.
Consider your early ancestors... They didn’t have ready access to food 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Instead, they evolved to withstand extended periods without food. You and I are here today, so they obviously thrived.
Could your body perhaps be equipped to function optimally by not eating?
Fasting can rapidly accelerate your transition to fat-burning and immediately begin to improve metabolic pathways involved with many health challenges.
Think of it as a jump start to success... Starting MMT when you’re already adapted to burning fat through fasting makes your eating plan much easier to implement and stick with.
Fasting also provides numerous benefits in itself. When you fast, your:
- Blood sugar stabilizes
- Insulin levels fall and insulin resistance improves
- Digestive tract gets to rest and repair its mucosal lining
- Immune system participates in the regeneration of your body’s organs
- Stem cells produce new white blood cells to boost immunity
- Body produces ketones to fuel your brain and nervous system while preserving muscle mass
- Metabolic rate increases to provide energy in the absence of food
- Damaged cells are cleared out through a natural cleansing routine
- Excess body fat is shed without the loss of lean body mass
- Levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and cancer-promoting hormones drop
- Rate of aging slows as does the accumulation of cellular free radicals
- Brain function is protected by higher levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and other chemicals
Your Biggest Decision Likely Won’t Be If You’ll Fast, It’ll Be Which Fast Will You Choose?
I think you’ll agree that fasting provides an exceptional way to jump-start your mitochondria and become fat-adapted in as short a time as possible, and start reaping the many benefits of fat burning.
You can do a traditional 2- to 3-day water fast where you drink nothing but water plus minerals, or you can take your pick of at least 5 other types of fasts to make the transition to fat-burning even easier.
You’ll find detailed information about each type of fast in Fat for Fuel, including:
- How to find the “right” fast for you
- The fast that burns through your glycogen stores the quickest and pushes your body to start using fat for energy (You’ll want this one if you’ve just received a very serious diagnosis)
- How to get the benefits of water fasting without the typical loss of energy
- How to quickly shed your cravings for sweets and carbs while fasting
- How to optimize your body’s repair and rejuvenation processes
- How to use timing to reap many of the same benefits as long-term calorie restriction without the pain, suffering, and compliance challenges
- How to know if fasting is safe for you (Especially if you have low blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or are taking diuretics or blood pressure medications)
- The fast where you’re still eating food (This may be a tougher approach!)
- What you need to know about exercising while fasting
- How to fast without upsetting your body’s circadian rhythm
- A quick trick to help extend your fast while warding off your hunger without raising your blood sugar (Many will enjoy this taste treat!)
- The 3-hour window when you never want to eat (To help optimize your mitochondrial function and prevent cellular damage and faster aging)
- My favorite form of fasting – and the one I personally use (It’s the easiest to maintain once you’ve shifted over to fat-burning)
Is There Life After MMT?
As I show in Fat for Fuel, switching to burning fat as your primary fuel is a very powerful strategy for improving the health of your mitochondria, and in turn, your overall health.
But maybe you’re wondering, “Do I have to eat this way for the rest of my life?”
The short answer is, no you do not. In fact, I don’t want you to.
In Fat for Fuel, I help you determine how long is enough for you based on your genetic and mitochondrial differences, as well as any hormonal challenges you may have.
MMT is not intended to be a long-term deprivation diet. Once you regain the ability to burn fat as your primary fuel you’re ready to listen to your body and increase the flexibility in your diet.
By mimicking the eating pattern of many of our ancient ancestors, you can use what I call “feast-famine cycling,” a strategy that many in the body-building community have embraced to optimize their performance.
There are multiple ways to use this clever strategy and I review them all in Fat for Fuel. When done correctly, you’ll enjoy a greater variety of delicious, wholesome foods without harming your body’s newly regained ability to burn fat.
And I think you’ll agree... With greater variety and flexibility, it’s much easier to stick to a lifetime of healthy eating!
The Stealth Threat Facing Every Man and Postmenopausal Woman, Exposing You to Obesity, Cancer, Cognitive Decline, and Heart Disease
My MMT Program helps control the production of damaging ROS and secondary free radicals in three important ways. The first two are the foods you eat and when you eat them.
The third is such a serious threat to overall health that it absolutely astounds me that more doctors aren’t giving it the attention it deserves, including many holistic practitioners.
This threat targets every single man and postmenopausal woman, and it isn’t related to a reckless lifestyle or poor eating habits.
You could even be following my MMT eating plan and be at high risk for this health-wrecking threat!
I’m talking about iron.
Excess iron can lead to one of the most dangerous reactions in your body — the Fenton reaction — that decimates your mitochondrial DNA, proteins, and membranes and contributes to system-wide inflammation.
And all you may initially notice is some joint pain, fatigue, gut pain, memory fog, or an irregular heartbeat!
Even moderately elevated levels of iron can contribute to:
- Obesity — Obese individuals are more likely to have high levels of iron in their bodies.
- Cancer — Elevated levels of iron are found in patients with many types of cancer, including breast cancer, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS — High levels of iron in your brain tissue (which can easily happen as you age) can lead to cognitive impairment and inflammation.
- Cardiovascular disease — Women’s risk of heart disease rises significantly after they either go through menopause or have a hysterectomy (and stop losing blood each month through menses).
- Diabetes — Men with high iron stores were found to be 2.4 times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes as men with lower levels.
- The growth of pathogens — High iron levels facilitate the growth of disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and protozoa.
- Osteoporosis — Too much iron in your body can damage your bones, but unfortunately, symptoms don’t typically appear until your levels are dangerously high.
What You Learn About Iron in Fat for Fuel Could Literally Save Your Life
Many doctors, including some Naturopathic physicians, aren’t doing the right test to give you the information you need about your iron levels.
Yet, they’ll insist they know best, and may even try to talk you out of the test you really need.
It’s much easier to manage your situation if you discover your high levels early, which is just one of the reasons why I’ve become so passionate about this topic.
Fat for Fuel is your guide to repairing and nourishing your mitochondria. But, you simply can’t optimize your mitochondrial health – or that of your entire body – if you have excess iron.
I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to the topic of excess iron, where you’ll learn:
- The real test that you need to find out how high your levels truly are
- The ideal range you want to maintain (it’s not what labs and most doctors consider “normal”)
- The 7 things that increase your absorption of iron (it’s not only cast iron pans)
- What to avoid eating or drinking with a steak to minimize your absorption of iron from red meat
- The fastest way to lower excess iron levels (and what I do each month to help maintain safe low levels)
- The 6 alternative strategies that can lower your absorption of iron as much as 95 percent
- The 3 popular beverages that help protect you from the iron in foods
- When never to take vitamin C or calcium supplements as they can increase your absorption of unwanted iron
- The controversial strategy that provides the same iron level reduction as donating blood (it even provides up to a 75 percent lower rate of certain cancers), but it may not be for everyone
Your iron levels are so crucial, I’ve made getting them tested the right way a prerequisite before proceeding with my MMT plan!
10 Bonus Strategies to Boost Your Mitochondrial Health
Without question, my MMT diet is the most effective way to improve the health of your mitochondria. But it’s not the only way…
In Fat for Fuel, I outline 10 other powerful strategies for boosting mitochondrial health. At least half of them you can do at home without any special tools or equipment!
In this bonus chapter, I show you:
- How to use photobiology to create energy to improve your mitochondrial function (first, make sure your cells have enough of this beneficial fatty acid)
- The two-part strategy to gain a powerful synergy that could help reverse any health challenge
- How to use light to deeply penetrate your tissues to deliver energy to your mitochondria for increased ATP production (it must be this certain hard-to-find wavelength!)
- How to renew damaged proteins inside your cells, inside of allowing them to accumulate and form plaque deposits in your brain and vascular systems
- The inexpensive tool to help protect your circadian rhythms and natural melatonin production to help you sleep better at night and help lower your cancer risk
- The simple change you can make in your home to nearly duplicate the sun’s healthy, natural lighting for your eye health
- What to do if you wake up before sunrise, especially during the darker months of winter (and continue to do it until the sun rises)
- How to stimulate the production of new mitochondria and boost the destruction of diseased ones
- The 20-second trick to double your body’s production of norepinephrine for improved focus and attention and to boost mood and alleviate pain
- The four supplements to avoid if you have (or suspect) cancer as they can make cancer cells stronger and more resistant to anti-cancer treatment (this is a mistake many natural medicine practitioners make!)
- The ancient healing method that’s been shown to be useful in treating pain conditions, depression, age-related mental decline, and Alzheimer’s (I use it every night to help quell free radicals and protect against EMFs)
- Two ways to help your body increase levels of healthier “structured” water inside your cells and two simple ways to create it yourself from regular drinking water
Why My Book May Not Be for Everyone
Chances are if you’re still reading this, Fat for Fuel is exactly what you need to make significant strides in your health.
But I’ll be very blunt… Fat for Fuel isn’t for everyone.
If all you want are some smart but quick fixes, this is not the right book for you.
If you just want to upgrade your nutrition and improve your eating habits and overall health with small, simple tweaks to what you’re doing now, you may be better served by my last book Effortless Healing.
Effortless Healing walks you through nine powerful principles or steps that you can apply right away to your daily life to create healthy new habits and radically improved health.
Or you can go to Mercola.com and review the Nutritional Plan on the right side of the home page. Here you’ll find plenty of useful information, and if you sign up for my free newsletter, you’ll receive regular cutting edge health updates.
Fat for Fuel digs deeper – much deeper – into the very source of cancer, obesity, diabetes, mental decline and other chronic diseases that are affecting Westerners especially in epidemic numbers.
And it provides a real solution that works.
However, you’ll have to do more than just read the book… Getting the amazing benefits and results that my MMT plan offers takes a focused commitment and action.
Is Fat for Fuel for You?
“This book should be read by anyone interested in maintaining their health without toxic pharmaceuticals.”
— Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D.
Author of Cancer as a Metabolic Disease and professor of biology at Boston College
To help you decide if Fat for Fuel: A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brain Power, and Increase Your Energy is right for you, take a moment and see if any of these statements resonate with you:
- You have a serious health issue and need effective help now
- You’re frustrated with your current health treatments and feel like there’s something missing in your care
- You’d like to see a chronic condition ease up or disappear entirely (be sure to work with your health care provider as you may need to reduce or eliminate medications as your health improves!)
- You want to lose weight (and keep it off) without sacrificing lean muscle mass
- You’d like to get rid of your “brain fog” and enjoy greater mental clarity
- You want to stay healthy and live independently for as long as possible
- You’d like more sustained energy for everyday tasks and for the things you enjoy doing
- You need to lower your fasting blood glucose levels, regain insulin receptor sensitivity and reduce inflammation throughout your body
- You’ve dabbled with a low carb or ketogenic diet and would like to learn how to customize it for real results
- You’re following a ketogenic, low carb or whole foods diet now and want to take it to the next level
- You’d like to go through your day without feeling excessively hungry and craving sweets and carbs
- You want to experience improved digestion, less bloating and reflux, and more regular bowel movements (a 2016 autism study confirms that you may notice significantly improved gut and microbiome health)
If you agree with just one of these statements, then I can assure you there is solid value waiting for you within the covers of Fat for Fuel.
Dr. Perlmutter Praises Fat for Fuel
Dr. David Perlmutter, board-certified neurologist and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Grain Brain and The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan has provided his endorsement to Fat for Fuel. He states:
“…Fat for Fuel eloquently presents the leading edge of science, exploring how best to power your body. This is a life-changing text that not only provides a deep dive into why choosing fat as our primary fuel source powerfully correlates with health and disease resistance, but also delivers in terms of how the reader can easily bring about this fundamentally important change.”
Take Action Now
Maybe you feel like you have time to wait before making profound changes to your health. Or maybe you don’t.
The strategies I present in Fat for Fuel: A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brain Power, and Increase Your Energy are just too important for your health and well-being to set aside and “wait until the timing feels right.”
You’re growing older each day. Your body is producing fewer mitochondria, so that puts you at a disadvantage right from the gate. Time really may not be on your side.
And even if you haven’t yet been diagnosed with cancer, you likely have cancer cells in your body right now. Just about everyone has at least some. It’s up to your body as to whether they’ll survive or succumb.
I believe Fat for Fuel: A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brain Power, and Increase Your Energy gives you your best fighting chance against cancer or any other chronic disease by repairing and renewing your mitochondria.
Why wait when you can start making powerful changes now in your mitochondrial health? Changes that will have a ripple effect throughout your entire body.