287: Smart Blood Sugar

Dr. Marlene Merritt and Ashley James

Blood sugar levels significantly affect our body. That’s why we have numerous studies explaining why it is vital to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. To educate us more about blood sugar and how to eat smart, Dr. Marlene Merritt explains all that and more in this episode.

Early Exposure

Dr. Marlene Merritt shares her mother is German. And because she was suspicious about going to doctors more often, it was normal that from a young age, Dr. Marlene Merritt was given things like chamomile tea to drink for certain discomforts like gastritis.

Over time, Dr. Marlene Merritt learned more things such as steamed water with eucalyptus could treat asthma and bronchitis. That’s why she never had too many antibiotics when she was a kid.

College Years

In college, Dr. Marlene Merritt got into racing bikes in New York.  One day, she got sick, and her friend gave her antibiotics. An infection lodged in her heart and damaged one of her heart valves.

Upon consultation with a doctor, Dr. Marlene Merritt was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, a heart condition at the age of 20. She tried prescribed drugs, but it didn’t help much.  Eventually, she gave up racing when her health couldn’t keep up.

Discovering Whole Food Nutrition

After getting her graduate degree in Oriental Medicine, Dr. Marlene Merritt happened to see a chiropractor/ naturopath who diagnosed her to be Vitamin E deficient. Taking away the Vitamin E capsules she was making that time; he replaced it with a whole food supplement of vitamin E.

Thinking she had nothing to lose, Dr. Marlene Merritt followed the doctor’s instructions and started feeling a whole lot better. Dr. Marlene Merritt got strong enough to go cycling again and eventually biked across the United States in 26 days.

Her quality of life started getting better and better after that. She still has the valve that doesn’t work, but it doesn’t bother her like it used to.

“I started getting healthier with supplements and whole foods. And I have Chinese Medicine’s ability to work with the body as a whole. It put all the pieces together. That trained me well for functional medicine,” said Dr. Marlene Merritt.

After her health improved, Dr. Marlene Merritt changed the core of her practice to nutrition. She went further by pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Nutrition which took her three years to complete.

Importance Of Supplementation

Ultimately, supplementation was a big help to Dr. Marlene Merritt’s health. To illustrate this, she cites Dr. Bruce Ames’ triage theory.

“Most people now are sub-clinically malnourished. So, what happens is, we never get full of nutrition. We’re never replete,” said Dr. Marlene Merritt.

The triage theory shows that our body developed a rationing response to shortages of micronutrients which are vitamins and minerals during our evolution. When our cells run out of a vitamin or mineral, that scarce micronutrient is given to proteins which are essential for short-term survival.

On the other hand, proteins that are needed for long-term health and protection of DNA, lose out. They become disabled and lead to diseases of aging. The triage theory also explains how RDAs are chosen.

The Truth About Fructose

Like what most experts say, Dr. Marlene Merritt says eating sugar causes deficiency. In particular, she says the sugar component fructose does not metabolize the same as glucose does. And to understand all about blood sugar levels, we must first understand how our body processes sugar.

“Fructose gets metabolized in the same pathways as alcohol. The other place that you get sugar is in the actual white sugar or brown. The sugar molecule sucrose is half glucose, half fructose. Sugar substitute agave is 90% fructose,” Dr. Marlene Merritt said.

She adds, “Fructose turns into fat faster than any other sugar. And a lot of people are for whole grains. That works if you’re not having blood sugar issues. But when somebody has blood sugar issues that involve insulin and overreaction of insulin, then ultimately leads to diabetes, whole grains won’t work for them any longer. So, I often have to work with people about eating lesser carbs even the good ones.”

Diet Sodas

I’m sure most of us have heard or read that consuming too many diet sodas are bad for us or affects our blood sugar levels.  But surprisingly, Dr. Marlene Merritt says diet coke does not give us diabetes. It’s not causing us blood sugar issues at the moment, but it makes us addicted.

Diet sodas and any processed food are engineered to be addictive. To read more about how foods can be addictive, Dr. Marlene Merritt recommends the book, Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss.

“I can’t just say something is good or bad. Mostly there has to be some context to it. So, if I can keep an open mind and look at the research, most people don’t know how to find the research or read the research.”

Carb Intake

Dr. Marlene Merritt says fruits, beans, and oatmeal are best eaten in moderation. Because when somebody has blood sugar issues, it does not matter what kind of carbohydrate it is, it’s still problematic. And the reason fruit is included in the list is that although fruits don’t cause insulin reaction, the high fructose will damage the liver which speeds up your chances of getting diabetes.

“Manage your carb intake. Carbs all break down to sugar.  Some will break down faster,” said Dr. Marlene Merritt. “The whole grains break down slower, but it still doesn’t make them not a carb. the main problem is that it causes an insulin reaction.

She adds, “And as you go farther into the spectrum of diabetes, it causes more of an insulin reaction. If you have insulin resistance, you cannot burn fat. Insulin is also the most inflammatory biomolecule there is. Plus, insulin also causes food retention.

Plant-Based Diet

As for plant-based diets, Dr. Marlene Merritt says the term doesn’t mean plants exclusively. Because she says, no culture is entirely vegan. Otherwise, we would have died without supplementation because being vegan is not a natural state.

She further explains that one of the things that nutrition research is always kind of a challenge is because of a lot it observational. And observational doesn’t mean it’s wrong.  Instead, what they are looking at is an observation of whether there are other factors involved.

“So, when somebody is eating a mostly plant-based diet and that culture, in particular, they have a very high community interaction. That’s social isolation. It affects health like smoking and obesity,” said Dr. Marlene Merritt.

Dr. Marlene Merritt also says that with a vegan lifestyle you restrict yourself that much, and you would have died of B12 deficiency. For those who are unaware, the most significant deficiencies are a B12 deficiency, zinc deficiency, iron, vitamin A and many others. Among these, B12 is the most well-known.

“I’m not saying don’t eat plants. But rather, I’m saying vegan doesn’t work. That’s why they say plant proteins are not complete proteins,” shares Dr. Marlene Merritt.

High Protein Diets

But when it comes to high-protein diets, Dr. Marlene Merritt is not a proponent of high-protein diets either. This is because she thinks that we don’t manage meat well in a lot of ways.

She also says animal protein doesn’t cause cancer. However, the situation may be different if you are eating conventional meat that is not well-treated, it’s been fed differently, or butchered differently.

Dr. Marlene Merritt also shares that the muscle meat has the least amount of nutrition to it. So, she advises choosing the organ meats where the nutrition level is much higher.

Cooking Methods

Surprisingly, Dr. Marlene Merritt also busts myths about fried foods. She says in fried food like fried chicken; it’s the actual oil that the food is fried in that’s the problem. For frying, Dr. Marlene Merritt says it’s best to use avocado oil or refined coconut oil.

As for other cooking methods, there are options like wet cooking which is either steaming, braising, or putting in stews and dry cooking which involves grilling or baking. Between the two, Dr. Marlene Merritt says dry cooking is not the best thing for proteins.

When it comes to proper cooking protein like meat, Dr. Marlene Merritt shares that some ways of protecting the beef are adding vinegar or doing a marinade. Furthermore, cooking at a lower temperature is good.

Recommended Foods

Leafy greens at breakfast is an excellent way to start the day, says Dr. Marlene Merritt. Soups are also one of the most healing things for the gut. And Dr. Marlene Merritt even uses a teaspoon of bone broth for babies or small children who have colic or constipation. 

An ideal diet is something that is vegetable heavy with some form of protein. And contrary to chicken breasts, Dr. Marlene Merritt prefers chicken with bones and skin, as well as some meats.

For dessert, Dr. Marlene Merritt loves making a mashup of coconut milk, avocado, banana, a tablespoon of chocolate powder, and vanilla-flavored stevia mashed in a food processor.

Ultimately, for the best diet for you, Dr. Marlene Merritt strongly suggests finding a Functional Medicine Practitioner who can tell you more about your health.

Merritt Wellness Center

Dr. Marlene Merritt’s practice offers a lot of services that not only focus on maintaining blood sugar or finding the right diet for you. The Merritt Wellness Center provides services ranging from functional medicine, nutritional testing, and long-distance consultation. They also offer full-body thermography, genetic testing, Chinese and Japanese fertility acupuncture, detox, stress management, and pediatrics.

Her website is also filled with articles and schedules for events, lectures, and webinars.  So, I urge everyone to check it out.


Dr. Marlene Merritt, DOM, MS Nutrition received her Masters’ degree in Oriental Medicine in 2000 and is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine. She has an additional Masters’ degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Bridgeport. 

Dr. Marlene Merritt is licensed by the New Mexico Board of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is nationally board certified in Oriental Medicine. She is an Applied Clinical Nutritionist and is additionally Board Certified in Bariatric Counseling, and certified in the Bredesen MEND Protocol™. 

Dr. Marlene Merritt is also currently enrolled in the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Certification Program to become an IFM Certified Practitioner. She has published multiple articles on different issues in nutrition and has published numerous articles on various issues in nutrition in a variety of publications, and is the author of three books — one on reversing hypertension using natural means, one on reversing diabetes, and one on insomnia. 

In addition to a full clinical practice, Dr. Marlene Merritt lectures nationally with her husband, Will Mitchell to healthcare practitioners all over the U.S. and Canada on issues ranging from dementia, diabetes, endocrine dysfunction, blood chemistry, nutrition and functional medicine.

Get Connected With Dr. Marlene Merritt!

Official Website

Smart Blood Sugar



Books by Dr. Marlene Merritt!

Smart Blood Sugar 

The Blood Pressure Solution

Recommended Readings by Dr. Marlene Merritt!

Salt Sugar Fat

Death by Food Pyramid by Denise Minger

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Blood Sugar – Dr. Marlene Merritt & Ashley James – #287

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