Sunday, January 19, 2014


Dr. Mercola of is something of a maverick and a minimalist when it comes to conventional medicine.

He is highly skeptical of Big Pharma, is critical of many medications and procedures, attaches great importance to diet, regards exercise and sound sleep as fundamental to good health, is fanatical about Vitamin D, and is implacably opposed to genetically modified foodstuffs; and, in fact, to industrial food in general. As to Big Ag’s happy habit of rearing cattle, pigs and poultry intensively—and feeding them antibiotics to ward off disease (thus promoting the truly terrifying—and trending—prospect of widespread antibiotic resistance) such practices make him froth at the mouth (metaphorically speaking).

Frankly, I doubt that Dr. Mercola froths. He appears to be a decidedly controlled individual, and in formidably good health.

Sometimes I wish the man would show a flaw.

I don’t know whether he is right on every issue, but he never seems to make a claim without plenty of supporting data—and I regard his general approach approach to health as sound.

We writers are notoriously neglectful of our health, frequently drink too much, and—generally speaking—live a sedentary lifestyle, but I pay great attention to his newsletters and (amazingly enough) actually modify my behavior on occasions. My rationale is simple. You have to be in reasonably good health to focus on writing, and at my age it makes sense to take a few precautions. Beyond that, I don’t particularly want to be dependent on medications—though doubtless I’ll have to compromise at some time or other. I have the notion that meds dull the mind, and since my mind is what enables me to write (I think—see below), I like to keep it (together with its kissing cousin, my subconscious) as keen as possible.

I tend to view my mind and my subconscious as two separate individuals—so to speak—with my mind getting the glory and my subconscious doing most of the work. ‘Twas ever thus!

Gut FloraMercola has recently been obsessing about intestinal bacteria.

‘Obsessing’ has somewhat pejorative connotations’ but I’m more talking style than substance. The man does seem to obsess, but normally in a worthy cause.

I like to think of myself as being me—a relatively self-contained individual—but, according to him, I’m a housing unit for 100 trillion bacteria (who may be entitled to co-author status given how much they do). It’s all a bit disconcerting—but interesting. 

Anyway, Mercola is more than capable of expressing his views himself. Let me quote briefly from his Jan 17 newsletter.

  • Your intestinal bacteria are part of your immune system, and researchers are discovering that microbes play instrumental roles in countless areas of your health, including your weight
  • Researchers have discovered a difference in gut bacteria between the overweight and those of normal weight. A strain of beneficial bacteria called Lactobacillus rhamnosus also appears helpful for weight loss in women
  • Research suggests there’s a positive-feedback loop between the foods you crave and the composition of the microbiota in your gut that depend on those nutrients for their survival
  • Bacterial imbalance in your gut can be worsened by processed and pasteurized foods. Sugar also promotes the growth of disease-causing yeasts and fungi in your gut
  • A gut-healthy diet is one that is rich in whole, unprocessed, unsweetened foods, along with traditionally fermented or cultured foods

So now you know. It’s also worth putting Mercola’s opinions in context. The facts are that though we spend nearly twice as much on healthcare as other developed nations, generally speaking Americans are not in good health (something of an understatement). Roughly half the adult population suffers from a chronic condition, obesity is rife, and we die two years or more before the competition. That totality is sobering.

Maybe we need to re-think our approach. Read the man and make up your own mind.

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