I’m very thankful to Gina, a reader friend, who wrote a great review for us on this book, The Schwarzbein Principle II, The "Transition": A Regeneration Program to Prevent and Reverse Accelerated Aging, by Diana Schwarzbein, M.D.:
For me, this book was nearly as life-changing as "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" and "Nourishing Traditions." Dr. Schwarzbein is an Endocrinologist (hormone specialist), so I really believe she knows what she’s talking about in this regard.
The book is primarily about the 3 major hormones:
Adrenaline, cortisol, and insulin, and how they are affected by stressors in our lifestyle and nutrition habits (as opposed to an actual glandular-based endocrine disorder). Dr. Schwarzbein includes the "healing stories" of three former patients, as well as her own personal story, throughout the book in order to illustrate the different metabolism types and the paths that led there.
She discusses each hormone individually (acknowledging that no hormone works by itself) and what role each one plays in our survival. When one or more of these hormones are out of balance, you have a damaged metabolism.
But you can heal yourself!
The four metabolism types are:
- Insulin-sensitive with healthy adrenal glands (ideal)
- Insulin-sensitive with burned-out adrenals
- Insulin-resistant with healthy adrenals
- Insulin-resistant with burned-out adrenals (most damaged)
At the end of the book are detailed nutrition and exercise plans for each individual metabolism. If you can’t figure out which one you are just by reading, have your hormones and fasting insulin levels tested.
1. You cannot lose weight to get healthy; you must get healthy to lose fat-weight.
2. “Calories in, calories out” is a myth.
3. Your hormones, not your genes, determine your metabolism. Just because a person is thin and can eat whatever they want does NOT mean they have a healthy metabolism. Bad habits will catch up with you in time.
4. All types of stress (physical, emotional, nutritional, chemical, etc.) can cause hormonal imbalances.
5. 3 major hormones are responsible for utilizing/rebuilding your bio-chemicals (neurotransmitters, muscle/bone tissue, energy stores, brain cells, etc.).
6. Insulin is your “building-up” hormone. Adrenaline & Cortisol are your “using-up” hormones. They are designed to keep you alive in times of acute, life-threatening stress. They are very important; you don’t want any of your hormones to be too high or too low. Balance is key to healing your metabolism.
7. When you use up more bio-chemicals than you can rebuild, or vice versa, you have a damaged metabolism. A damaged metabolism causes degenerative diseases of aging.
8. Healing your metabolism is not just about weight. It’s about living a long, disease-free life; a.k.a. “Successful Aging.”
9. Most Americans have hormonal imbalances and therefore damaged metabolisms due to one or more of the following:
- Too much daily stress; being overly busy (high adrenaline & cortisol levels)
- Lack of quality sleep (high adrenaline & cortisol)
- Overuse of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, birth control pills, or other drugs (high a & c)
- Over-exercising (cardio-vascular exercise = high adrenaline, other exercise = cortisol)
- Eating too much protein (high adrenaline) or not enough protein (high insulin) at every meal.
- Eating too many (insulin) or not enough (a & c) carbs at every meal.
- Eating a low-fat and/or low-calorie diet, skipping meals [a.k.a. “dieting”] (high a & c)
10. Surges in adrenaline and/or cortisol levels cause a surge in insulin (because insulin prevents your body from using up its bio-chemicals completely), which in turn causes a blood sugar “crash” and carbohydrate/sugar cravings.
11. Elevated insulin levels over time cause many disease symptoms and can eventually lead to heart disease, diabetes (II) and Alzheimer’s.
12. Insulin’s survival role is to keep too much sugar (glucose) from entering your brain for fuel, because too much sugar kills your brain cells.
13. Insulin is the reason dieters gain back fat-weight after they stop the diet (or when smokers stop smoking). Dieting causes the body to use up more bio-chemicals than it can rebuild; once a more “normal” diet is resumed, insulin begins to heal the body by “catching up” rebuilding all the bio-chemicals it lost during the “famine,” which leads to excess weight gain. This is the only way the body can heal.
14. As you begin to heal your metabolism/balance your hormones, the weight you put on is not just fat – it is lean body mass, bone density, and other structural and functional bio-chemicals as you begin to rebuild your body.
15. Your age and how damaged your metabolism is will determine how long your body will take to heal itself and eventually burn off excess fat-weight, if needed.
16. Never eat protein by itself. This causes a surge in adrenaline and cortisol.
17. Never eat carbohydrates by themselves. This causes insulin to rise too quickly and can also burn out or further damage your adrenal glands.
18. Eat 3 balanced meals consisting of the foods that you are made of: Proteins, Fats, non-starchy Vegetables, and real (unrefined) Carbohydrates (PFVC).
19. Do not eliminate any of the food groups (PFVC).
20. Eat 2 snacks consisting of at least Protein & real Carbohydrate, ideally all four. Snacking keeps your blood sugar levels even and prevents a hormonal surge or imbalance.
21. Alcohol consumption feels relaxing, but in fact raises cortisol because alcohol is a toxin. Over time this can damage your adrenal glands.
22. A “beer belly” is caused by high cortisol levels. Cortisol signals your body to store fat around your midsection only instead of evenly distributing it.
Something I learned that I didn’t know:
A very-low-carb diet can be just as damaging as a high-carb diet. Insulin is not your enemy. Balance is key in healing your metabolism.
I like that Dr. Schwarzbein acknowledges that fats like butter are good for you, and that cholesterol plays an important role in the body. However, in the section about actual food choices she contradicts herself at times. She says to stay away from man-made foods and damaged fats (hooray!), but gives the okay to eat canola and soybean oil, as well as soy products such as tofu and soy milk for vegetarians. But, I still highly recommend reading the book for her hormone expertise. I realized that I’m still recovering from 16 years of vegetarianism, even after almost 3 years of a WAPF diet and lifestyle. The information in The Schwarzbein Principle II was the extra "oomph" that I needed to speed up the healing of my own metabolism.
Me again (Kelly), WOW, my wheels are turning…what a great book review, thank you, Gina!
Gina is 29 and was born and raised in Seattle, WA. Shortly after receiving a degree in Vocal Performance from Western Washington University, she moved to Whidbey Island, WA, got married and started her own private voice teaching business. It was during this time that she discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation and renounced her 16 years of vegetarianism. She currently lives in Eugene, OR where her husband is a grad student and Gina continues to teach voice lessons. They both enjoy the bounty of fresh food, farms, and farmers markets in the Willamette Valley.