Thursday, January 26, 2012

Guest Post: Healthy Steps for a Gentle Cleanse,Part 2

Welcome back to Arja Pennanen Lytle from Balance Body and Soul Nutrition who is going to offer 11 steps that will help you cleanse the body naturally.  Take it away, Arja!

Follow the guidelines below for 10-14 days and reintroduce eliminated foods slowly to make sure that your body doesn’t react negatively to them.


1.      Eliminate alcohol.  Not only does alcohol provide empty calories leading to weight gain, but it also dehydrates you and requires the liver to detoxify its harmful by-products.

2.      Eliminate sugar.  This includes cane sugar, sucrose (table sugar), fructose, high fructose corn syrup and any other form of sugar so read your labels carefully.  Sugar inhibits your immune system, provides empty calories, spikes insulin levels and negatively affects the function of your adrenal glands (your stress response organs).

Also avoid artificial sweeteners (aspartame, Splenda, etc.) as these chemicals can have a negative effect on your liver and digestive system.  Studies have also shown that people who rely on artificial sweeteners have a tendency to gain weight and less ability to lose weight.

There are many natural sweeteners out there that do not have such a strong effect on insulin levels (agave, coconut sweetener) and some that even have some nutritional benefits, like maple syrup.  Honey is also a good choice as it has antioxidant and antibacterial properties, but it will have a stronger effect on your insulin level.  Limit your intake of these natural sweeteners.

3.      Eliminate caffeine.  Caffeine also requires the liver for detoxification and is very dehydrating.

4.      Reduce intake of animal protein.  Eliminate harder to digest proteins like red meat and pork and focus on fish and poultry.  Keep your serving sizes to 3oz (about the palm of your hand).  Take it a step further and adopt a flexitarian lifestyle where you eliminate animal protein entirely once or twice a week.  Not only will your body thank you, but so will your wallet.

5.      Avoid cow’s milk dairy.  Cow’s milk dairy products are a common source of allergy and intolerance for many people.  It can be very hard to digest so taking a break from it can be very helpful for the digestive system.  Use this time to explore some of the wonderful goat and sheep milk products out there.  Ever had goat gouda?  It’s divine.

6.      Use a daily greens supplement.  Powdered greens supplements like Greens+ and Progressive provide nutrients that support healthy liver, thyroid and adrenal function while also promoting healthy elimination.  Many people find that using these products also increases their energy and sense of vitality.  I recommend that all my clients try using a greens product as it supports so many of the body’s functions.

7.      Eat whole grains and avoid gluten containing grains.  Eating whole grains is a choice you should make all the time, but for the purpose of this cleanse stick to brown rice, quinoa and millet.  Gluten, found in grains like whole wheat, barley, spelt and oats, is another common intolerance for many people and can be a source of inflammation.  Whole grains are a source of valuable fibre and b-vitamins which can support a healthy digestive system and liver function.

8.      Eat more fibre.  The average person does not eat enough fibre, and since the goal here is healthy elimination we want to make sure that you focus on getting more.  Try adding chia seeds or ground flax seeds to a morning smoothies or to some unsweetened applesauce.  Sprinkle on salads or add to some yogurt (in this case goat yogurt!).

9.      Get enough healthy fat.  Cold water fish, flax seed oil and hemp oil are all great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, but also consider avocado oil, sesame oil and walnut oil in the place of your standard olive oil (which is also healthy) in dressings.  Just don’t cook with these oils.

10.   Drink more water.  You knew it was coming, didn’t you?  Eating more fibre is all well and good, but if you aren’t drinking enough water you could end up constipated.  Also, being dehydrated can result in feeling more hungry, more pain and more tired.  Want to make your water that much better for you?  Add some fresh lemon juice to it and show your liver some love.

11.   Take a probiotic.  Unhealthy bacteria in your gut can produce toxins that are reabsorbed into the producing ill effects in the body.  Many of the B-vitamins are produced in the digestive tract by good bacteria (which support the liver and many other metabolic functions) and so is a large portion of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.  Repopulating your gut with good bacteria can help with not only gas, bloating and other digestive upset, but also have a positive effect on mood.

You may experience some headaches, irritability and difficulty concentrating during the first 3-4 days as your body adapts to life without sugar and caffeine.  These symptoms will pass, so just hang in there!  This is not as dramatic or hard core as a juice fast, but you’re still giving your body a break where it needs it and supporting it at the same time.

One of the really nice things about this diet is that you could actually go on eating like this for a longer period of time and still be providing your body with all the vital nutrients it needs to stay healthy and not feel hungry to boot.

There are other ways to detox and cleanse that work on deeper levels and possibly provide more dramatic effects, but you should speak with a nutritionist, naturopathic doctor or other healthcare provider to make sure that you cleanse safely and choose the right program for your body.

Thanks so much, Arja for sharing your tips!  Be sure to visit her website for more great information on healthy eating.

Stay Healthy, 

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