Log on to the Testosterone Forum and start reading all the threads about health. What you'll find is that one name keeps popping up in the conversations, and the very mention of that name is sure to cause a heated debate. The name? Dr. Mercola.

But who is this guy and what can we learn from him? We headed to his website (one of the most popular health sites on the net with two million visitors per month) and what we found was that Dr. Mercola's advice on many topics seemed to echo much of what was written about here at T-mag.

However, the more we read, the more disturbing some of the info became. Don't eat tuna and rice? Don't drink milk? Eat four pounds of raw vegetables a day? Tap your face with your finger for optimal psychological health? What the heck!?

We could have written Dr. Mercola off, but the truth is we kinda' like people whose ideas stir things up and create a lot of debate. And besides, much of what Dr. Mercola writes about – the importance of fish oils, avoiding soy protein etc. – jibe with what we generally believe. Maybe we should look deeper into his other ideas (even though some of them are initially wacky sounding), talk to the guy, and let T-mag readers decide?

Well, that's just what we did.

Testosterone: What's your medical background, doc?

Dr. Mercola: I'm trained in both traditional and natural medicine. I've been a practicing physician since the early 1980s, and practicing natural medicine actively since 1990. I'm an osteopathic physician, or "DO." DOs, along with MDs, are licensed to prescribe medication and perform standard surgery, but DOs bring something extra to the practice of medicine.

Osteopathic physicians practice a "whole person" approach to medicine, treating the entire person rather than just the symptoms. With a focus on preventive health care, DOs help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but help prevent it, too. I'm also board-certified in family medicine. My practice, The Optimal Wellness Center, is based in a suburb of Chicago and is focused on creating entire health programs for patients based around individualized eating plans.

T: For T-mag readers who aren't familiar with your work, what's your main goal?

Mercola: It's my vision to transform the existing medical paradigm from one addicted to pharmaceuticals, surgeries, and other methods that only conceal or remove specific symptoms (with morbid results to our health and economy) to one focused on treating and preventing the underlying causes.

My primary mechanism for facilitating this transformation is through the Internet. Unlike TV, radio, newspapers, and the other vehicles of communication, the Internet is still not owned by the government or corporate bodies who, for their commercial gain, inevitably control what facts can and can't be stated. My website provides the public with comprehensive, clear and researched guidance on the best nutrition, medical, emotional therapy and lifestyle choices to improve and maintain total health.

The information on the site and in the newsletter isn't tainted by advertisers, investors, sponsors, or any other party offering financial or other returns in exchange for the promotion of their ideas, suggestions or goods. When I recommend or offer products and services on my site, it's because I've researched them and truly believe they're the most worthwhile; any profits I generate through the site are only used to maintain and expand the site.

T: You say that the existing medical establishment – along with the media and greedy corporations – is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans. What do you mean exactly?

Mercola: Those aren't my words, but those of Dr. Starfield, who's a full professor at Johns Hopkins, the most prestigious health care institution in the US. This was also not published in the National Enquirer but in the most widely circulated medical journal in the world, JAMA, in July of 2000.

Her findings were that doctors are the third leading cause of death in the country, killing over 250,000 people every year. I've also had private correspondence with her and we both agree that physicians are likely the number one cause of death in the US when you factor in their arrogant ignorance of basic foundational omissions that could radically improve people's health.

T: Believe me, we butt heads with doctors a lot ourselves here at T-mag. Your focus is mainly on diet, so let's start there. Give us the Cliff's Notes version of your dietary recommendations.

Mercola: That's easy. Let's start with water. The average American is drinking over 600 cans of soda per year, or basically fifty-six gallons of sugar water. The ideal solution would be to limit all your fluids to pure, clean water. Filtered tap water is fine, but most municipal water shouldn't be consumed without filtering.

The average American is also consuming 170 pounds of sugar per year. That is one of the single most devastating contributors to health and aging. Additionally, they're consuming well in excess of 200 pounds of grains and cereal per year, 95% of them refined. Nearly all American breakfasts are a recipe for disaster! For most of us, grains and sugars, even unrefined, rapidly convert to sugar and further exacerbate insulin dysfunction that accelerate nearly all chronic illnesses.

T: What is the primary goal of your recommendations? Weight loss? Life extension?

Mercola: The goal is total health. When you have a flashlight and shine it in a dark corner, you remove the darkness. You can't have light and darkness at the same time. Similarly, you can't have health and disease at the same time.

My recommendations are designed to prevent disease, optimize energy levels, extend lifespan, get people to their ideal weight, and, for those with any form of illness or disease, optimize the healing power that God gifted each of our bodies with so they can truly address their health problem at the deepest and most foundational level.

T: You write about high insulin levels and the problems this causes, so do you generally recommend a low carb diet?

Mercola: Most people benefit from no sugar and dramatically reduced grain diets. However, everyone is different and the newer version of my program acknowledges this through something called "Metabolic Typing". This is a series of subjective questions by which the answers reveal how many grains one may tolerate. Slow oxidizers and individuals who have a sympathetically dominant autonomic nervous system tend to require some grains in their diet to optimize their health.

All the macronutrient recommendations depend on one's metabolic type and their specific individual needs. There are general starting points for each type, but ultimately one needs to fine tune based on individual factors, such as exercise load, stress, seasons, and circadian rhythms. If a person is not at his optimal weight, experiences food cravings, and has a lack of energy, then it's highly likely his current choice of foods is less than optimal.

T: We hear a lot about how eating a low-calorie diet year round can extend the lifespan. Do you go for that?

Mercola: I really believe the central issue for most people is a drastic reduction of most grains. Replacing the grains with vegetable carbs will drastically reduce your insulin response. It's likely the low insulin levels are what's responsible for the observed dramatic increase in longevity in animal studies when they're placed on low calorie diets.

So the key is low insulin levels. We measure fasting insulin levels on all our patients. The lower the better. A fasting insulin level over ten is a major problem. Average levels are about four to six, but I like to see them below two. In my experience it's very difficult to have your insulin level that low without exercise.

T: We agree about a lot of things – multiple small meals, omega 3's, limiting sugar intake, avoiding soy protein etc. – but let's focus on the things that may shock the average Testosterone reader. I'll just name a few things and you give us your opinion and explanation. First let's talk about grains.

Mercola: I advocate vastly reducing or eliminating the intake of grains for almost everyone. Far more than the fat in the foods we eat, it's the excess carbohydrates from our starch and sugar-loaded diet that's making people fat and unhealthy, and leading to epidemic levels of a host of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

It was only with the advent of agriculture a mere 10,000 years ago, or 500 generations ago, that humans began ingesting large amounts of sugar and starch in the form of grains (and potatoes) into their diets. Indeed, 99.99% of our genes were formed before the advent of agriculture; in biological terms, our bodies are still those of hunter-gatherers.

Societies where the transition from a primarily meat/vegetation diet to one high in cereals show a reduced lifespan and stature, increases in infant mortality and infectious disease, and higher nutritional deficiencies. We haven't suddenly evolved mechanisms to incorporate the high carbohydrates from starch and sugar-rich foods into our diet.

T: Okay, we agree on that, but carbs are a necessary part of ones diet, right? From a bodybuilding perspective, you just don't grow much muscle without carbs.

Mercola: We all need a certain amount of carbohydrates, of course, but through our addiction to grains (which includes corn), potatoes, sweets and other starchy and sugary foods, we're consuming far too many. The body's storage capacity for carbohydrates is quite limited though, so here's what happens to all the excess: they're converted, via insulin, into fat and stored in the adipose, or fatty tissue.

Insulin, stimulated by the excess carbohydrates, is responsible for all those bulging stomachs and fat rolls in thighs and chins. Even worse, high insulin levels suppress two other important hormones – glucagons and growth hormones – that are responsible for burning fat and sugar and promoting muscle development, respectively. So insulin from excess carbohydrates promotes fat, and then wards off the body's ability to lose that fat.

Excess grains and sugars also suppress the immune system, contribute to allergies, and are responsible for a host of digestive disorders. They contribute to depression and their excess consumption is, in fact, associated with many of the chronic diseases in our nation, such as cancer and diabetes.

T: Now, you say sugar is bad, but is anything really "all bad"? For example, simple sugars after a workout can be very beneficial.

Mercola: Nearly all simple sugars are devoid of the fiber and accessory nutrients that one needs to digest them. There's absolutely no question from a physiological perspective one would be better to avoid them. If you're using them for calories you can be certain that your body needs those accessory nutrients, vitamins and minerals just as badly as it needs the calories, and if you neglect their intake, over time you'll develop deficiency syndromes.

However, life is a matter of balance. If you're healthy, it's perfectly reasonable to go off my program 5% of the time and still have extraordinary high levels of health and fitness. If one were to consume sugar immediately before, during or immediately after workouts, that would probably be the absolute best time to consume them as they'll be rapidly converted by the body and utilized as fuel, rather than triggering a deleterious insulin response.

T: Hmmm, I think we could argue about post-training nutrition and properly timed insulin spikes, but let's get to some of your other ideas. You talked a little about water intake already, but give us your exact guidelines because I know from reading your site that you're very specific about it.

Mercola: The rule of thumb is, for every 50 pounds of body weight you carry, drink one quart of bottled spring or filtered water per day. A 200 pound person should drink a full gallon per day. Athletes should drink even more than that.

The spring water (not "drinking" water) should be bottled in clear polyethylene or glass containers, not the one-gallon plastic (PVC) containers that transfer far too many chemicals into the water. Filtered water can be obtained through low-cost filters, such as those provided by Culligan or PUR brands.

Tap water should be avoided because it contains chlorine and may contain fluoride, both toxic substances that, with ongoing consumption, can have dire consequences for the body. Although somewhat controversial, I also strongly recommend avoiding distilled water because it has the wrong ionization, pH, polarization and oxidation potentials, and can drain your body of necessary minerals. It's also been tied to hair loss, which is often associated with certain mineral deficiencies.

Finally, drink water at room temperature if possible, as ice-cold water can harm the delicate lining of your stomach and impair your body's ability to optimize nutrient absorption.

T: What are your thoughts on eating meat?

Mercola: Most adults require 50 to 120 grams of protein per day depending on gender, body weight, and activity level – bodybuilders can certainly require more. You should increase your intake of meat or eggs if you need to increase your protein intake, and I recommend protein with every meal.

As for the ideal type of meat to eat, I highly advocate grass-fed beef – that is, not the common beef raised on the artificial diets of grain such as corn. I also recommend buffalo, venison, and lamb, as these are game animals less likely to be contaminated with pesticides. Chicken, duck and turkey are also fine sources of protein.

T: Any meats we should avoid?

Mercola: Pork. Pigs are scavenger animals and are frequently contaminated with parasites that aren't removed with cooking. Pork can be heavily contaminated with mold spores in its fat. Pork is also used in labs to culture cancer cells as it increases their growth. I also caution against processed, cured, smoked, or dried meats, as the nitrates that are typically added have been shown to cause problems for most people.

T: I know you have some rather odd recommendations concerning eggs. Tell us about those.

Mercola: Eggs are probably one of the best values in protein and a bodybuilder could easily eat a dozen a day as long as he didn't heat the yolk. This may surprise many people as they'll be concerned about the risk of salmonella, but the reality is that salmonella is a relatively uncommon infection in healthy, cage-free, organically fed chickens.

T: Why exactly do you suggest we not cook the yolks?

Mercola: The reason I advise not cooking the yolk is the incredible destruction of highly perishable nutrients that occurs once the yolk is heated. Just imagine that virtually all that's required to grow a mammalian life form is present in the egg in the perfect combinations. Once you heat the yolk above 105 degrees, just like your own body, you will rapidly damage the sensitive architecture of life, including most of the enzymes and fragile biochemicals that facilitate health.

Imagine a delicate crystal vase. Now imagine someone smashes it with a hammer and then tries to convince you that it's the exact same vase as before they destroyed it because, hey, all the pieces are still there! Well, obviously it's not the same. It not only looks different, but it can't perform the important function of holding fluids or displaying the beauty it had prior to being smashed with the hammer.

Well, an unheated egg yolk may seem similar to a cooked egg yolk, but it's far more complex and precise. We just don't appreciate that as we can't see it at the molecular level. If we could, the picture would be just as clear as with the vase.

One of the major dangers of heating the yolk is that you can damage the cholesterol in the egg and oxidize it, especially if you mix it with egg whites, so scrambled eggs or omelets containing the yolks are one of the worst ways to prepare eggs. If yolks must be cooked, it's best to hard or soft-boil them.

It may take some getting used to eating raw egg yolks, but if one starts slowly it's not much of a problem. I also advise adding them to the leftover pulp one creates when vegetable juicing. If you add a little oil, the mixture turns to a mayonnaise type substance that actually tastes quite good.

T: Okay, so we should eat our egg yolks raw, but you're not advocating that we eat the whites raw, too, are you?

Mercola: It's important not to eat your egg whites raw because egg whites have a substance called avidin that will bind to biotin (a B vitamin) and can cause deficiencies over time. You can put the whites in a skillet with some water and put a lid on it and cook them over a very low heat so all the whites are solid white and not burnt.

Eggs are high in protein, which is good, but if people only eat one organic food, it should be eggs. Organic eggs contain a 1:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, while commercial eggs contain a 19:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Commercial eggs are not unhealthy due to the cholesterol, but due to their excessive omega-6 fats.

Most people can eat one to two dozen eggs per week if cooked properly, as they won't cause your cholesterol to increase with appropriate preparation. However, it's important not to eat eggs daily or an allergy to them can be developed. If the eggs are prepared conventionally, eat them no more than five days per week.

T: I've never been a fan of milk myself, but you're adamantly opposed to it. Why?

Mercola: Commercial dairy is loaded with hormones and pesticides that aren't doing anything to further your health. However, even if you use organic milk, the central issue is the pasteurization and homogenization that's performed to the milk. This processing tends to damage the proteins in the milk and can cause autoimmune problems over time.

Pasteurization has clearly reduced the risk of TB and brucellosis from milk, but if you consume milk from healthy animals to begin with, this infection risk is quite low.

Most people will benefit from at least reducing their intake of dairy. Avoid dairy for a few weeks to see how your health improves. If you're off all milk products, you should consider supplementing your diet with calcium. Milk is also an important source of vitamin D for many, so if you stop milk, make sure you're getting enough vitamin D from other sources.

Many people seem to tolerate raw milk and raw milk products quite well. The problem is that in nearly every state it's illegal to purchase raw milk, but if one finds a cooperative farmer, barter exchanges can be arranged.

T: Okay, let's talk fruit.

Mercola: Don't eat more than three servings of fruit per day (less if you haven't cut back your sugar intake in other areas). Fruits like apples, plums and strawberries are good, but I recommend avoiding bananas because of their concentrated sugar levels. (There's 300% more potassium in dark green vegetables such as kale than there is in bananas.) Consuming fruit before bed is best, as it helps increase the amount of tryptophan crossing the blood brain barrier that will increase serotonin levels and improve any depressive tendencies.

Avoid dried fruits, especially raisins. Fruit juices should also be avoided. They contain a large amount of refined carbohydrates. Each glass of juice, even those with no sugar added, has more sugar than a glass of soda. Although it's natural sugar, fructose, it will still negatively affect your immune system.

T: We already know you're big on vegetables, so lay the details on us please.

Mercola: I recommend replacing the grains in your diet with vegetables. Most people also benefit far more from increasing their intake of vegetables than supplementing with vitamins. For every fifty pounds of body weight, you should eat a pound of vegetables per day. This will optimize your body's pH acid/alkaline balance.

Ideally, at least one-third of all the foods in your diet should be consumed raw because there are valuable and sensitive micronutrients that are damaged when you heat foods. Regularly juicing your vegetables will easily help you reach this goal of one-third raw food in your diet.

Some vegetables are superior to others. A general rule of thumb: green is good. The greener the vegetable, the more healthy chlorophyll is present. Most lettuces, such as romaine, red and green leaf, are healthy choices, but iceberg lettuce has almost no nutritional value. Some other good vegetables choices include spinach, celery, cucumbers, green and red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, onions, and red peppers. Carrots are high in sugar and generally should be limited.

Organic vegetables are, of course, recommended, because they not only decrease your exposure to dangerous pesticides, but they have two to five times more nutrients as compared to non-organic vegetables. Most people agree that they also taste much better.

T: This one is really going to hurt bodybuilders, but you're against eating tuna, right?

Mercola: This is a no-brainer. Tuna, plus most all salmon and swordfish, needs to be avoided. Says who? Says the National Academy of Sciences.

We've been using coal to generate electricity for over half of our country for many years. Most coal is loaded with mercury and when it's burned it pollutes the atmosphere and rains back into the waterways of the world and eventually even gets to both polar ice caps. So the reality is, nearly all fish are polluted with not only mercury, but PCBs, dioxins and many other chemicals that'll disrupt your immune system. I do find this sad, because without these poisons, fish would be a wonderfully healthy food, high in the omega-3 that Americans aren't getting enough of.

One of the few supplements I absolutely recommend – if it can be considered a supplement – is fish oil, because it does provide the necessary omega-3 with EPA and DHA fatty acids. More specifically, I recommend cod liver oil in the cold weather months, as it's high in the vitamin D necessary in cold weather, and fish oil in warm months, when the sunshine is producing enough vitamin D on its own. There are vastly different quality fish oils out there, with different levels of purity. I've researched these fish oils and we'll be offering what I've found to be a premium brand on Mercola.com in late October, 2002.

T: What you say about tuna makes sense, but I gotta tell you, I've never known a guy to actually get poisoned by eating too much tuna.

Mercola: Never known anyone with a disease of the central nervous system then, such as Alzheimer's? Mercury poisoning is an insidious disease that gradually degenerates your central nervous system. If your ability to actively excrete it is high you might get away without obvious damage, but we do have a literal epidemic of Alzheimer's. The number of people with that devastating problem is expected to triple in the next generation. MS and ALS are other neurodegenerative illnesses that have been associated to mercury exposure.

I've seen many hundreds of people severely damaged with this neurotoxin. It's not pretty. Tuna – and most other fish – are polluted with mercury and a host of other toxins, which is why I recommend avoiding it.

T: T-mag readers are mostly after a muscular look. They want to be big and strong. To be honest, some of your recommendations may help with longevity and health, but can a person build muscle with these ideas? Can he perform well athletically?

Mercola: My primary focus as a physician hasn't been on exercise, and when I have it's been admittedly biased. I was one of the first 100,000 runners in the US in 1968, long before it was trendy, but I only started weight training a few years ago, as I always felt cardiovascular health was far more important. Now I use the Superslow method developed by Ken Hutchinson and have a personal trainer who helps me incorporate that into my lifestyle.

Back to your question, though. I have some national-class bodybuilders who seem to thrive on my program. I'm currently not networked very well into the bodybuilding community, as my focus has been on treating chronically sick patients, but I do understand that more and more bodybuilders and other athletes are discussing and incorporating some or all of my recommendations.

T: You recommend getting out in the sun for at least an hour a day. Why?

Mercola: Because that's what we're designed for! Of course, one needs to exercise common sense and avoid ever getting burnt.

So why go in the sun? The obvious answer is to get your vitamin D, which, in fact, isn't a vitamin. It's the only "vitamin" that a breast-feeding mom needs to give in the winter as the child doesn't get it from the mom. That should be a giant clue that tells everyone we need sun to receive our vitamin D.

There are literally only a handful of clinicians who routinely measure vitamin D levels. We do it on all patients in our office and find that well over 95% are deficient, and most horribly deficient in the late winter and early spring. This is typically in people who consciously avoid, or whose work schedule has them avoid, the sun. This is particularly true for most African-Americans and darkly pigmented people.

Additionally, the National Institutes of Health have very clearly identified the need for regular full spectrum light exposure (sunlight being the best, of course) for optimizing mental health. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is common for many in the dark winter months and is largely related to lack of adequate sun exposure.

T: Speaking of mental health, you promote EFT, which is the "face tapping" I referred to in the introduction of this article. What is EFT exactly?

Mercola: The Emotional Freedom Technique is the psychological technique I routinely use in my practice and most highly recommend to optimize emotional health. It's easy to learn, easy to use, and highly effective.

Although it's still often overlooked, emotional health is absolutely essential to physical health and healing. No matter how devoted you are to the proper diet or lifestyle, your body won't achieve its peak capabilities if emotional barriers stand in the way.

EFT is a form of "psychological acupressure" based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over five thousand years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem and voice positive affirmations.

This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the "short-circuit" (the emotional block) from your body's bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body's balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.

T: I'll bet you get a lot skeptics in this area.

Mercola: Some people are initially wary of these principles that EFT is based on – the electromagnetic energy that flows through the body and regulates our health is only recently becoming recognized in the West. Others are initially taken aback by the EFT tapping and affirmation methodology – it may not seem "manly," and, in fact, can be downright amusing to witness for the first time. But, more than any other technique I've used or researched, it works.

If Testosterone readers are interested, I offer a free EFT manual for anyone who wants to read more and learn this technique.

T: Now, you're a marathon runner. T-mag readers are mostly bodybuilders, powerlifters and combat athletes. How do your dietary guidelines change when dealing with that population. Or do they?

Mercola: I used to be a marathoner. I now only run enough to stay healthy which has been about 18 miles a week for the last ten years. I'm actually at this time more of a weight trainer.

Clearly, bodybuilders or anyone using their muscles regularly will increase their protein requirements. You can't build muscles without protein and amino acids. Depending on one's program, they can take very high levels of protein. However, one should strive for the ideal levels. It makes no sense to take too much protein, which will increase the risk for kidney damage. But virtually all of my other guidelines are identical for bodybuilders as the rest of the population.

T: I find your ideas fascinating, but I have to be honest, some of your recommendations seems to go a little overboard. Here are some examples:

You say: women should not wear underwire bras because the metal is bad for them, don't use microwaves, don't stay up after 10 PM, don't use an electric razor, don't get a root canal, don't drink water with meals, don't use fluoride in your toothpaste, don't get your kids vaccinated, don't swim in chlorinated pools, don't chew gum and don't carry your car door remote in your pocket.

Honestly, this stuff may help me live longer, but I'd die anyway from stressing out over it all!

Mercola: These are fine-tuning recommendations that can be ignored if one chooses when they're healthy. Please remember, I'm managing many thousands of patients with chronic illnesses who've been to the best-of-the-best traditional medical doctors but got no positive change from them. Many times these seemingly crazy recommendations I make – recommendations based on facts provided through reputable sources, by the way, not "magic" or guesswork – do indeed result in dramatically positive results for these patients.

Most, but not all, of the recommendations you just listed damage only in small ways on an individual basis, and a reasonably healthy person has enough reserve to compensate for that damage to some extent. But the damage of all these things is cumulative, and over time will lead to many different types of degenerative illness.

Just as in other areas of life, if you follow some of the advice, you'll be better off than following none of it. It's most wise, of course, to focus on the basic advice, which includes eating an optimized diet and addressing your emotional wounds and barriers with an effective tool like EFT. Nearly all of us have some internal bioelectrical short-circuiting from previous negative life events that's limiting us from experiencing the fullness that life has to offer.

T: Okay, fair enough. But I'd like to play the "bad cop" just once more. You've been called paranoid and your ideas have been called "health paranoia personified." Many have also called for studies that back up some of the stranger claims. How do you respond to your critics?

Mercola: Actually, this is the first I've heard of that particular label. But people can say what they want to say. I'm not offended in the least, and certainly not surprised. I'm typically ten to twenty years ahead of the pack in many areas. When I first started running in 1968, people were literally throwing rocks and cans at me as they thought I was some sort of nut. You'd never see anyone running in the street in the 60s; now there are millions of people running.

I could go on and on with dozens of other examples, but the real question is this, what's my real motivation? And what's the real motivation of those criticizing me and other natural physicians?

Those who criticize natural physicians like me tend to come from the traditional medical establishment, meaning they are the medical practitioners, hospitals and research groups purchased by pharmaceutical companies and other giant healthcare corporations and therefore addicted to prescribing drugs, surgery and other band-aids to patch up versus end or avoid diseases. If they're consumers joining in on the criticizing, they tend to be heavily influenced by TV and other mass media, whose messages are, of course, largely purchased by the traditional medical establishment.

The existing medical establishment's primary trick is to get consumers to forget the most important question – their real motivation – by dazzling you with what appears to be magnificently trustworthy qualifications. But their "clinical studies" conducted by heavily biased "researchers," their advertisements and news stories carefully scripted to scare you into belief, their highly polished corporate offices and corporate websites, and their extreme focus on whatever has the most profit potential versus health potential, aren't qualifications at all! They aren't "factual." They're scams designed to feed greed.

T: So, criticisms from the medical establishment aren't much of a surprise to you?

Mercola: Obviously, when a natural physician comes along with the aim of telling the truth to enable people to live longer and rely far less on patchwork healthcare, they'll try to stick all sorts of negative labels on me. I'm a threat to their profit, so they call me "paranoid" or a "quack" or whatever they think will instantly appeal to the easily misled, the blind followers, in our society.

Meanwhile, it doesn't take a lot of deep thought to realize that my program, at its heart, is based entirely on common sense: an ideal diet and lifestyle, the things you do and do not put into your body everyday, and the way you treat and maintain your body and mind are far more important to your health and well-being than choosing between, say, pain relievers. How often though do you see commercials promoting romaine lettuce or vegetables in general, versus those promoting Tylenol, Motrin and all the other pain relievers? Who, in other words, has really cornered the market on paranoia?

So, then, what's my motivation? My motivation – which is truly my passion – is to find the absolute best strategies that address the foundational causes of disease so people's health is restored and optimized for a longer and more fulfilling life. In my experience with the nearly 20,000 patients I've seen, and secondarily, in my years of discussions with other medical practitioners and my ongoing research of traditional and alternative medical studies, I've learned an extensive amount about all the particulars I recommend.

The vast majority of those patients who were consistently compliant with my recommendations improved their health. With the people I saw earlier on in my practice, the percentage was much lower, but now my success rate is well over 90%. The people who trust me with guiding them back to health are the only ones I'm responsible to. That's why I seek to provide them with the best of the best. As for those who simply parrot the tainted criticisms of the traditional medical establishment, well, it's their loss, not mine.

T: Thanks for the interview, Dr. Mercola. I'm sure it'll stir up a few more heated debates!

For more information, visit www.mercola.com or The Optimal Wellness Center. Also, in early spring of 2003, Putnam will be publishing Dr. Mercola's first mass-market book, The No-Grain Diet.

Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram