Detox, Health, Nutrition

Detox 101

The vast majority of disease in the human body is caused by a nutrient imbalance and a low pH (too much acidity), which is equivalent to a “low voltage” situation in our cells and organs. Usually this means too many toxins and the wrong kind of bacteria in your stomach and intestines. Nutrient deficiency (vitamins and minerals) and lack of exercise are also culprits. There is a common misconception that the older you get the more you are supposed to eat, while doing less exercise and strenuous activity. But the opposite is actually the case. The older you get the more you need to stay active, not necessarily doing heavy workouts or running marathons, but at least doing moderate cardio like brisk walking, calisthenics, biking, etc.

The key is also to consume less food and focus on quality nutrients (recent studies show that calorie restriction, specially cutting down on animal proteins, benefits the body and slows down the aging process). In other words, you will not get quality nutrients from eating steak and white rice for lunch, and chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner. In fact, things like sugar, beef, fish, poultry, dairy, and refined carbohydrates like white rice and white bread should be avoided as much as possible. Quality nutrition means getting the highest amount of the following elements on a daily basis or as often as possible:

  • antioxidants (colorful fruits & vegetables, berries)
  • probiotics (fermented foods or capsules)
  • enzymes & phytonutrients (fruits, vegetables, beans, grains)
  • omega-3 (nuts, seeds, fish oil)
  • chlorophyll (leafy greens and algae)
  • amino acids
  • vitamins and minerals
  • good quality clean water
  • proteins from plant sources (beans, legumes, nuts, seeds)
  • non-processed or unrefined carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables )
  • healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds)

The first thing we need to do is detoxify our body before starting any type of behavior change that involves diet and/or exercise. A simple way to do this is to start the morning with an alkaline drink. Most people have been taught that the morning meal after waking up is the most important of the day, and should include a large amount of fat and protein, usually from animal sources. Unfortunately, this is a very common mistake. These types of foods are very acidic and cause severe inflammation in the body. All types of alcohol (beer, wine, liquor, etc.) are also extremely inflammatory and should be avoided completely while doing any form of detox.

Although most of the literature says coffee has many benefits, the fact is that drinking more than 1-2 cups a day along with dairy and sugar will only create health problems in the long run, based on the low pH of this combination. In other words, coffee should always be taken black, or with an alternative to dairy (i.e. almond or coconut milk) and sugar (i.e. honey or maple syrup, never use artificial sweeteners as they are not only highly acidic but also cause a variety of health problems), and only in the morning. The evidence shows that the typical American breakfast creates and/or exacerbates most of the negative health conditions that we see today plaguing our society.

The first thing we consume in the morning should be very light and packed with vitamins and antioxidants, or foods with a high pH (alkaline) level. Consuming fruits and fruit juices or smoothies would be the best choice to start the day (use organic produce as much as possible). When detoxifying your body, you should consume beneficial super foods in liquid form to maximize absorption, coupled with plenty of good quality water taken throughout the day. The Internet is saturated with different methods, products, and protocols to detoxify the body, but it all boils down to cutting down calorie consumption and flooding the body with quality nutrients that can easily be digested, hence the morning liquid diet.

Here is an example of a simple approach:

  1. Squeeze the juice of 2-3 lemons or limes and put in a blender or a glass container with a cap.
  2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of organic Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV (it is essential that the ACV is raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized, so that it contains what is known as “The Mother”, the natural enzymes and probiotics that form a cloudy sediment due to the fermentation process). If you live in a country where this type of ACV is not available, you may try using Kambucha instead. If none of these are available then just the lemon/lime water will have to do.
  3. Mix with a healthy juice like organic blueberry, grape, or pomegranate (it should be actual juice, NOT from concentrate mixed with water and absolutely NO ADDED SUGARS).
  4. The other option is to make your own juice using a juice extractor, and mixing in some organic apples, celery, and pineapple, for example, or cucumber instead of pineapple if you don’t want it too sweet. Allow yourself to be creative and experiment.
  5. If juice is not an option then water will also work (no need for a bottle or blender). I recommend spring water that has been filtered and ionized with a pH level of at least 7.5. I do not recommend tap water. Cold water slows digestion, so room temperature or slightly warm is preferred.
  6. You must do this on an empty stomach first thing in the morning after waking up. Make sure to drink the lime/lemon, ACV, and juice/water mixture slowly and allow it to sit in your mouth for a few seconds, just let it sit under your tongue so your salivary glands interact with the enzymes in the juice mix to maximize absorption and allow the process of digestion to begin right away.

After the morning cocktail, eat a banana and/or apple, maybe some dried fruit and nuts. The idea is to eat very light. It is a myth that we are supposed to eat large servings of fatty or processed foods in the morning, what is known as a “hearty breakfast”, which is nothing more than cleverly engineered propaganda from the likes of Edward Bernays, but that is a subject for another article. Small portions as the day progresses is the ideal, mostly “grazing” or snacking on nuts, seeds and dried fruit (no more than a cup total). Then having a solid lunch that remains in the realm of “whole living food”, such as lightly steamed veggies or an avocado salad with hummus (never use dressings), instead of inflammatory foods like pizza, hamburgers, or fried chicken.

After lunch one should keep the snacking to a minimum and follow the same guidelines as in the morning. In the afternoon I recommend a bowl of berries (any combination of various or single kind) preferably slow-thawed from frozen, or a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal with a tablespoon of coconut oil, fresh or dried fruit, cinnamon, and lightly sweetened with honey or maple syrup.

Dinner should consist of nutrient dense foods like brown rice or quinoa with lentils and avocado, and should be no later than 7 p.m., right around sunset (depending on where you live the sun may set close to 9 p.m., but that would be too late, so 7 p.m. seems reasonable). The timing is important because the pineal gland begins to secrete melatonin as sunlight fades and begins to prepare the body for sleep, which slows digestion significantly. Whether you are looking to loose weight or not, the most balanced approach is to have the last big meal of the day around sunset or right after, and then having a light snack (apple or banana) an hour or two before going to sleep.

This protocol should be followed for at least 2-3 weeks, depending on the severity of the health condition or inflammation. In general, the more calorie restriction the better, so if you feel you can get through the day comfortably eating less than what I have suggested, then go for it.  Juicing all day long is also a viable option, but usually depends on a person’s willingness to do all the work. As I stated earlier, drinking plenty water throughout the day is very important as this is really the main component of the detox, which “flushes” toxins out of the body.

Other modalities can be added or transitioned into after this cleansing process has been completed, such as using supplements (vitamins, minerals, and herbs), starting a fasting or intermittent fasting protocol, or focusing on other types of detox (“de-stressing” techniques that help focus on a mental, spiritual, or energy cleanse).  The key to all dietary interventions is that each person’s body is different and reacts differently to changes in lifestyle and behavior. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach, so it is always recommended to do an individual nutritional assessment with a qualified professional before embarking on any type of dietary changes in order to minimize frustration or possible health risks.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments. Good luck and stay positive!

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