Intermittent Fasting, Detox, Cleanses
Should you be trying it?
I get asked frequently, “So, what do you think about cleansing, detox or intermittent eating?”
Without going into detail right now about what each one is….
Here is my response:
I think if you do not know what you are doing, why you are doing it and the risks/side effects involved, then you can do more harm than good.
For some people and at the right time they can be a useful tool as part of a healthy way of life. But most people want to start with a cleanse or a detox or dive right into intermittent eating and this I do not support.
Do I think that everyone should be trying these methods?
No, I don’t and here is why:
If you are eating the Standard American Crap Food Diet, you don’t need to start with intermittent eating or fasting or cleansing.
Three reasons why you should not start your dietary changes with a detox, cleanse or intermittent eating.
- Because you need to learn how to eat a healthy whole foods diet first! Start by making slow changes and when you have a whole foods diet as part of your routine for 6 months to a year then you can look at some other options to add in.
- You need all the nutrient dense food you can get right now! If you have been consuming the standard American diet, it is likely that you have nutrient deficiencies. You do not want to add in intermittent fasting right away-intermittent eating is when you skip a meal, usually breakfast and do not break your fast until around the 14-16 hour mark. Typically you are eating only in a small window of time. How are you going to get the nutrients you need from food if you skip a meal or do a juice cleanse?
- If you have been eating an unhealthy processed diet, the odds are that you have some blood sugar issues. If you skip a meal right now or do a detox or cleanse that is limited in protein, this can disrupt your blood sugar even more.
You actually are detoxing and cleansing.
When you start to make changes from a crap food diet to one of whole foods, trust me you will be detoxing and cleansing your body.
How will you know?
Well, your stools will probably change and early on they may look a little funky and may have a strong or even foul order to them.
You may even notice a smell change to your sweat as you expel toxins in this manner. If you have no heart health issues, hypertension or diabetes, infrared sauna may be a good add in at this time as long as your medical professional approves.
Your body will start to remove toxins in the body once you give it real food. At first you may feel like you have the flu; this is normal for a few days and even up to a week as your body expels the waste.
Here is what will happen
- Toxins will start to be released from the tissue, typically fat tissue.
- The enzymes of the liver will help to convert those toxins from fat soluble to water soluble molecules.
- The liver will then attempt to neutralize those toxins but in order to do so it requires an abundance of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants (see how important your diet is to detox?)
- Once these toxins are neutralized they will circulate through the blood into the kidneys and are released in your urine. If they are not neutralized (say because you are continuing to eat the Standard American Crap Food Diet) the kidneys will not pick them up and they will continue to circulate and end up back in your fat tissue where they will continue to wreak havoc on your body.
So as you can see, you don’t need a supplement, what you need is real food to detox, cleanse and feel better!
- Start and end your day with 16 ounces of filtered water
- Remove common culprits such as Teflon pans (throw them out please), fluoridated toothpaste (no, you do not need fluoride-more on that in a future blog) and make your own deodorant instead of using aluminum containing products (you can put raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar on cotton balls and dab on arm pits for a quick solution).
- Protein at every meal
- Vegetables and/or salads every day ( lettuce and tomato on your sandwich does not count as meeting your vegetable needs)
- Quality fat sources such as avocado, olive oil, coconut , raw nuts and seeds
Fruits, vegetables, quality fats and proteins, fiber from the fruits and veggies, and adequate amounts of water, maybe some gentle herbal teas-yup, that is all you need. Not a detox kit or skipping meals or tons of herbs. Herbs can be supportive and I do like to add herbs in for various reasons, but again not until after the dietary transition has begun.
Right now focus on food! Many people just read up on detox herbs and supplements and try them without knowing the consequences and end up doing more harm than good. More is not necessarily better. And some herbs or supplements may not be the right ones for you, especially if you have any chronic health issues or are on medications.
In today’s society if it isn’t a pill for a quick fix, we tend to want the herb or supplement to help us lose weight and to give us more energy. Sorry, there are no quick fixes in life.
You need to start with the diet!
Once you have the diet down, work with a nutrition professional who can guide you to the next step. Do you want to lose weight? Intermittent eating can help…when the time is right. Do you still get headaches and have fatigue? There are additional herbs and supplements that can be helpful but you won’t know you need them if you don’t address diet first.
Many people say “But I eat a healthy diet already”. I say show me. Give me a detailed diet log. Sadly, many are eating the wrong foods for their bodies. Please work with someone or if you are reading information on the internet, check the source and do some homework first-after all this is your body we are talking about!
What diet do I recommend?
Even before diet, I like to start with mindfulness. Ask yourself this: do you eat in front of the TV, the computer, while driving, while standing or walking? Do you inhale your food rather than chew eat bite and enjoy your meals? If you this sounds like you then BEFORE you change your diet, practice mindfulness!
As far as diet goes, it is individualized as we have different ethical views; different food likes and dislikes different cultural food preferences and religious guidelines.
I like a diet that takes out the common allergens and inflammatory foods-so one that does not include pasteurized “cow” dairy, gluten, corn or soy (non-fermented). Stick to a diet that does not include “invented foods” which is usually anything that is in a box or package and is a prepared meal or snack. Just because it says it is “Organic macaroni and cheese” does not mean it is the best choice.
Your diet should not consist of processed foods such as sugary foods, refined white flour products and so forth.
However some of the guidelines above may be impractical for you due to ethical or religious beliefs. This is when you need to work with someone to fine tune the diet. For instance you may be vegetarian, but eat donuts and bagels and pasta all day long. That may be vegetarian but it is a blood sugar and nutrient deficient nightmare of a diet! Just because you eat vegetarian, does mean you eat healthy!
What results should you expect with a healthy food “detox” plan?
- By the third week (often sooner) increased energy and less fatigue
- Less brain fog, more clarity
- Easier bowel movements
- Improved sleep
- Weight loss
- Clearer and more vibrant facial skin
- Improved mood, better able to withstand stress
- Stronger immune system
Here are some meal examples:
- eggs, cooked in coconut oil or grass fed butter-blend in some spinach- with org. nitrate free bacon or sausage and sweet potato hash; add in some herbs such as garlic and cilantro
- goat, sheep or coconut yogurt sprinkled with nuts and seeds
- steel cut gluten free oats with apples, cinnamon, and almond butter
- homemade breakfast bars
- left overs
- pancakes made with coconut and almond flour and side of eggs or bacon
- green protein smoothies (limit the fruit) add in flax, chia or hemp seeds, bee pollen and more to give it a boost.
- quinoa breakfast bowl with black beans and goat milk cheese and veggies
- salad bowl-dark leafy greens, whatever veggies you have, sprouts and a protein such as garbanzo beans, chicken, fish, eggs or steak, drizzled with homemade oil and vinegar dressing
- tuna fish or egg salad on bed of lettuce with hummus and veggies and flax crackers and fermented pickles
- mason jar to go meals-put veggies, protein and fats in a mason jar to take to work-drizzle with homemade dressings
- soups-use a blender to make the night before-have with a salad
- left overs
- Teff, millet or quinoa bowl with veggies, homemade dressing (make large batches at a time) and fried eggs or salmon
- combine a protein with veggies (try a medley instead of just one) and a side of carbs
- lemon chicken, side salad, sweet potatoes and a tablespoon of fermented sauerkraut
- shrimp stir fry with basmati white rice or cauliflower rice
- marinated grass fed beef with roasted root vegetables and pea medley
- crock pot- pot roast one dish meal
- ground beef pasta sauce with bean pasta and side salad
Is it too expensive to eat healthy?
It does cost a bit more in the beginning until you weed out all the crap. But then it will start to replace those fast food meals, cereals, snacks, juice, soda, energy drinks and so forth and it will balance out.
Some say that it cost roughly 50 cents more per day per person so if you add that up for a family of four it could add up to an added $730 per year. But wait, you will be healthier, so less trips to the doctor and ER, possibly medication reduction or elimination and more. In the end it balances out.
Does it take too much time to eat healthy?
I get it. We come home from work tired, we don’t want to cook. Allow yourself a night or two per week to not cook.
But make an effort to the other nights, whether that is putting meals in the crockpot before you leave for work or making a bunch of meals on the weekend and freezing them. Find what works for you. I typically post on my fb page quick and simple recipes that are healthy. I don’t want to spend my day in the kitchen either!
Once you start eating healthy you will notice more energy and more motivation. Thus you will have the energy and motivation to prep healthy meals.
Let me know your thoughts on this and if you are in the process of switching to healthier habits. I would love to hear what is and isn’t working for you!
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
Dube, D. Detoxification. On Fitness Magazine. Vol 16, No. 1, 2015 www.onfitnessmag.com
Kresser, C. (11/17/10) Intermittent fasting, cortisol and blood sugar. http://chriskresser.com/intermittent-fasting-cortisol-and-blood-sugar/
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions. For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com
As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.