Archive for the ‘detox’ Tag

From Detox Diet to Gallstone Diet   4 comments

This spring is proving to be an interesting dietary experience. I was not planning to do a spring detox, since I was hoping to be pregnant, but since I’m not I was able to slip in a quick detox. That means for a couple of weeks I was avoiding meat and dairy, among other things. It’s really not that different from normal life, since it is not uncommon for us to only have meat once or twice a week, but during that time I do try to plan menus so that my husband does not feel like his diet is being restricted as well. He’ll add a sausage or some cheese to the meal, and since my restricted diet is only short term, it’s not too much torture for me to watch.

This year overlapping the reintroduction phase of my detox was the discovery that Mike has gallstones and the subsequent dietary restrictions for him. It is a very odd feeling to be on the other side of this coin. I’ve never before been the torturer who eats a hot dog under the nose of someone who cannot partake. I felt kinda bad about it, but obviously not bad enough to skip the hot dog (sausages are my carcinogen of choice, after all). It is odd putting cheese on MY salad, but not his.

The advised diet for someone with gallstones is definitely restrictive since it is so low fat. To me it seems unhealthily low-fat, but I guess that’s meant to be a short term diet. Apparently all nuts and avocados are off limits, in addition to most meats and cheese. The biggest difference between the detox diet and the gallstone diet are that when detoxing all wheat products are restricted so nuts and avocados become the best source of gut-fill. Unfortunately, I think the kibosh has been put on one of my favorite meals of the year: Easter brunch; because I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a formal brunch that was sufficiently low in fat.

Posted April 11, 2011 by mayakey in food, health

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Spring Detox – Time To Check Up On Good Health Habits   Leave a comment

Spring detox isn’t just about diet and supplements, although they are a major part, but it’s also¬†about making sure that the body’s natural detoxification systems are supported normally. The plan that I follow/have developed over the years includes several things that are good everyday health habits that get taken for granted or left in the background much of the time. By this I mean habits like getting enough sleep, breathing deeply, and drinking enough water. These are all habits that go right along with being conscious of my body and its needs, but it is also really easy to get caught up in distractions and drift from an established habit. For me being really busy at work makes it harder for me to drink enough water since I get sucked into my computer, being busy at home makes it hard to get enough sleep, and any form of stress or anxiety can restrict breathing. Taking a few days to make sure I am actually DOING what I think I’m doing (although to be honest I don’t think I get enough sleep regularly) is really valuable for me in the context of living a conscious life.

These are all habits that support the body’s natural ability to detoxify. Sleep is when many organs recharge themselves, especially the liver and the skin, which are two major parts of the body’s detoxification system. Exhaling rids the body of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and any other gaseous contaminants. Water is obviously a major part of the body’s detoxification system since it is the vehicle the kidneys use to get rid of waste (urine).

Posted April 1, 2011 by mayakey in breathing, conscious living, health, self-care

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Detoxing for Allergies   Leave a comment

Now that my spring detox is long done, I’ll finish reporting my research on the detox diet that I use. The post Inflammatory Meats and Carbs covered one reason for the dietary restrictions during a detox (giving the body a break from foods that can promote inflammation), but there are other reasons as well. Cutting out synthetic additives (and “natural” additives, because they’re not exactly natural) is kind of obvious, as is cutting out alcohol and caffeine. Eating organic to avoid possible pesticide residues is another gimme. Eliminating these foods from your diet for a week or two is not going decrease any bioaccumulation of toxins or affect chronic problems associated with toxins, but it’s the theme of the diet: Give Your Body a Break!

The other major reason for the detox diet is to avoid food allergens. Unfortunately you’d have to stop eating to completely avoid food allergens since it is possible to have a food allergy/intolerance to just about anything. Believe me, I know. (I mean who is allergic to summer squash?! Other than me of course.) There are a handful of foods that make up the vast majority of food allergies/intolerances including wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and soy. Some of the compounds that cause problems in wheat are also found in grains like oats, barley, and rye. Problems with milk can include all dairy, not just plain milk. And of course there are plenty of less common food allergens like citrus fruits, strawberries, and nightshades. For the purpose of the detox diet I cut out all of the Big 8 listed above except the peanuts and nuts since I need a crutch if I’m going to avoid pasta, crackers, and cheese for several days.

There are two reasons to eliminate potential allergens from your diet. One is to give your body a break (remember, it’s the major theme of the diet). My understanding is that the prevalence of allergies/intolerances has been increasing over the past couple decades and while there are lots of theories about why, this goes under the category “we’re not really sure”. So maybe giving your body a break once a year from common allergens could improve your chances of not developing an allergy/intolerance. The other reason is to conduct an elimination test to determine if you have a food allergy/intolerance. You might not know because the symptoms might be something that you are used to or would never connect to a specific food. Symptoms that may be caused by food allergies/intolerances include nausea, gas, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, cramps, nasal congestion, cough, sinusitis, skin rashes, eczema, dermatitis, hives, and headaches, among others.

The length of the detox diet depends entirely on which of those reasons is the most important to you. The “give your body a break” reason is a short one week detox that allows your body to completely eliminate all traces of those foods (3-4 days) and then rest a couple of days. The elimination test is more rigorous and much longer. An elimination test starts with a two week period of avoiding the selected food(s) to allow symptoms to clear up, then there is a period of gradual reintroduction that is prescribed and lasts at least another week during which you pay attention to any reoccurrence of symptoms.

After all this research into the physiological reasons for the detox diet, I have to note that there’s also a psychological aspect to the detox diet. For me any way, it just feels good. I can’t say that my body physically functions better, but in my mind it does. Mentally I get that boost that reminds me that I am/can be healthy. Other people have relished the psychological feeling of victory at having the self-discipline to eat a restrictive diet for a short period of time. Or it can be a psychological stepping stone on a journey to improving your lifestyle.

Posted May 8, 2010 by mayakey in food, health

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Inflammatory Meats and Carbs   1 comment

One of the purposes of a detox is to assist the body function by temporarily reducing levels of chronic inflammation (giving the body a break). Chronic inflammation can be caused by stress or diet, among other things, and can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or cancer (among other things). Dietary contributors to inflammation include meats that are high in omega-6 fatty acids and refined carbohydrates, hence eliminating meat and refined carbohydrates (including sugars and white wheat flour) during a detox.

Omega-6 fatty acids, like omega-3 fatty acids, are essential for the body; but the ratio of omega-6 to 3 should be around 4:1 and the wonderful American diet typically ranges from 10:1 to 30:1. Excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids are converted in the body into hormones that can contribute to inflammation (go to Wikipedia’s omega-6 fatty acid page for a more technical description). Grass-fed meat and poultry raised on high omega-3 seeds actually have a more favorable ratio of omega-6 to 3, but for the purpose of the detox significantly reducing meat consumption and eating more fibrous foods for a period of a few days is ideal. (Note the similarity between the detox diet and a healthy diet.)

Refined carbohydrates (aka sugars) also contribute to inflammation in the body because of¬†uncontrolled reactions of sugars with fats or proteins (as opposed to the controlled reactions that are necessary for healthy cell functioning). For more technical blah blah check out Wikipedia’s pages on glycation or advanced glycation end products. When I say “refined carbohydrates” I mean anything with a high glycemic index, meaning anything that rapidly converts to sugar during the digestion process. This includes almost every wheat-based product in your average grocery store. In my second grade class we did an experiment where we chewed a saltine for a minute without swallowing and experienced the taste change from salty to sweet. The concept was mind-blowing to me as a 7-year old, but now it helps me to understand what a carbohydrate really is (something that ultimately breaks down into a sugar). During the detox, therefore, consumption of foods with a high glycemic index is significantly reduced, and consumption of foods with a low glycemic index is increased. (Again, note the similarity between the detox diet and a healthy diet.)

Posted May 1, 2010 by mayakey in food, health

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Detox Lite and Late   Leave a comment

This week I am doing my spring detox, which I usually do a little earlier in the year (not by much, usually the beginning of April, not the end). I know that detoxes get bad press, or at best “there’s no evidence” press, but I kind of like my annual event.

The body has a whole host of natural detoxification systems including skin, lymphatic system, lungs, kidneys, and liver. These systems work constantly to keep us healthy, sometimes with no help from ourselves. By that I mean all of the things that we do that interfere with healthy body functions: not drinking enough fluids, not eating enough fiber, eating too much, eating too much of specific problem foods, not getting enough sleep, not exercising, stressing, smoking, etcetera.

In my mind, my spring detox is a RESET button for my body. This year, because of stress I’m doing a shorter detox but it still involves the following temporary changes.

  1. Modified diet. No meat (big whoop, I’ll miss my one serving of meat during the week, boo hoo). No dairy (it’s a common allergen, so I take a few days off; and it is a big deal, I mean 5 whole days without cheese!). No wheat and other common allergen grains (really big deal; this is what makes the detox diet a challenge, just try to go 5 days with no wheat products). Note: some people do serious fasting or juice diets, which I do not advocate. How that can possibly be healthy I don’t know. Plus I’ve heard that you get really bad constipation when transitioning back to solid foods, so what’s the point?
  2. More fluids. Specifically: more water, a “detox tonic”, and a “detox tea” The water is essential to the body’s detoxification systems so the primary focus is to make sure that throughout the day the body is fully hydrated. The detox tonic is water with lemon (to stimulate the liver), and a dash of cayenne (to stimulate circulation). The detox tea is based on dandelion root, which is supposed to be really good for the liver.
  3. More sleep. Ummm, yeah, I try and I fail every year. It is really sad that I can’t even make myself get enough sleep for 1 week a year.
  4. Supplements. Namely psyllium seed capsules (for colon cleansing) and turmeric (again, for the liver).
  5. Body brushing. This stimulates the lymphatic system, which carries waste from tissue to blood. This feels really good. This is something that I wish I could do every morning all year, but that always falls by the wayside.

Every year I mean to do more research about the stuff in my detox plan; and I never have. Unfortunately, that means I don’t have a lot of facts to share here. Maybe for the rest of the week I’ll make myself do some research to report. Hmmmm.

Posted April 27, 2010 by mayakey in health

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