Spring…the Perfect Time to Detox

Spring Detox Discover the basics of how to cleanse, boost metabolism, optimize digestion and eat to lose weight and boost energy.

I am often asked about the benefits of fasting in order to improve health, reduce inflammation and optimize digestion. For the majority of people, I am not an advocate of fasting. Most people do not have the proper blood sugar control to fast and end up feeling dizzy, hungry and may even find it difficult to participate in everyday activities. Part one of the natural spring detox series focuses on cleansing, not fasting. Why cleanse you ask? In essence, digestion is one of the major keys to health and wellness. By following a cleanse filled with high fibre and nutrient-dense foods, you give your body the opportunity to “clean out the pipes.” When thinking of doing a cleanse or a detox, I recommend a five-day period from Monday to Friday. Weekends are often a more difficult time to make nutritional changes. If following the recommendations properly, you should not feel hungry or deprived while cleansing. There will be enough selection of low glycemic index, high-fibre foods to fill you up and keep you going.

The key steps for the five-day cleanse outlined in The Natural Makeover Diet (Wiley, 2005) include:

1. Eliminate coffee. When public speaking, I often hear audible groans from the audience when I recommend eliminating coffee for five days. Coffee is acidic, a diuretic and can often make you feel shaky when cleansing. Instead of coffee, I recommend drinking herbal tea, green tea or white tea for the antioxidant effect and to help you get rid of any coffee withdrawal headaches. In addition, I always say if there is something in your diet you are so addicted to that you can’t give it up for five days — that is a clear sign to give it up!

2. Eat an abundant amount of colourful foods. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre, filled with minerals, vitamins and plant chemicals called phytonutrients that prevent and even help treat disease. My motto has always been “eat live to feel live!” From tomatoes to broccoli and blueberries — fruits and vegetables are low glycemic index and will help to sustain energy while flushing the system.

3. Eat lean protein options such as egg whites, chicken, turkey, fish and soy at every meal or snack. Proteins secrete the hormone glucagon which helps in fat loss. Avoid red meat and dairy for 5 days.

4. Supplement your diet with a high quality multi-vitamin, fish oils supplement and probiotic such as acidophilus. Acidophilus is “friendly” bacteria that helps to maintain a healthy digestive microflora. Healthy digestion and absorption is one of the main keys to looking and feeling your best.

5. Add essential fats and oils — such as flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds — to your diet for their anti-inflammatory effect.

6. Drink eight glasses of water per day. Fresh clean water aids with elimination, helps to boost metabolism, gives you a “full” feeling longer and helps to keep energy up.

It is best to give your body a mini five-day cleanse at the beginning of each season. Although not a drastic change in diet, the 5 days will take some planning and focus in order to eat right. By doing so, you will be paving the path for a spring full of health and vitality!

To continue the theme of springtime internal cleaning, the second part of our series focuses on nourishing from the inside out with high quality, nutrient-dense foods. Although the latest diets and fads are constantly hitting the weight-loss market and causing some confusion about what and how to eat, there are four basic nutritional principles that need to be kept in mind in order to eat well, feel well and look your best.

The nourish principles are:
1. You are what you eat!
2. Your body requires all three macronutrients — carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
3. You need to eat live to feel live.
4. Water yourself down.

Principle 1: You are what you eat!
To quote nutritionist and author Adele Davis, “We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.”
This statement touches upon a deep truth. Although we are of course much more than the sandwich and soup we had at lunch, the quality and quantity of our food choices can have a major influence on our mind and body. We all have a very deep-rooted emotional and chemical relationship to food. Picking higher quality nutritional choices such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products etc., can improve overall wellness and help to prevent the onset of future disease and illness.

Principle 2: Your body requires all three macronutrients
The three macronutrients that are the mainstay of the diet, and that the body requires as its primary sources of energy, are: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. While micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are equally as important, the body only requires them in smaller amounts.
Unfortunately, due to a myriad of diets and health claims such as low fat, high protein and low calorie, people often try to eliminate or greatly minimize one of the macronutrients in an attempt to lose weight. In truth, when looking closer at the weight loss research, it is evident that all macronutrients are required for optimal weight and health. The key is to select the right kind of macronutrients from each category, such as:

1. Low glycemic index carbohydrates
These include most fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grain breads or pastas (kamut, spelt). Eliminate all white sugar, refined flours, white potatoes, white bread and white pasta. Try to have a minimum of one dark green food per day (broccoli, spinach) and one orange food (carrots, squash, sweet potato).

2. Lean proteins
Low-fat dairy products, chicken, fish, soy, protein powder, eggs, turkey and lean beef are included here. Minimize full-fat red meat and cheese in the diet. Proteins are a critical factor in muscle repair, blood sugar control and weight loss.

3. The “good” fats
These include monounsaturated fats such as extra-virgin olive oil and avocados. Essential fats called omega 3 fats should be consumed because the body can’t make them. This includes options such as flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, almonds, walnuts, cold water fish (salmon and tuna) and fish oil. Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory and help to improve the look of skin, hair and nails. Eliminate trans fatty acids (partially hydrogenated fats) from the diet completely.

Principle 3: You need to eat live to feel live
As an adult, you need a minimum of five to nine servings of colourful fruits and vegetables per day for optimal health and wellness. Not only do fruits and vegetables contain an abundant amount of minerals and vitamins, they also provide a rich blend of phytonutrients — plant chemicals that can prevent and even reverse disease. Examples of phytonutrients are lycopene in tomatoes, sulfurophane in broccoli and flavonoids in dark chocolate, berries and grapes. What does a serving look like? One serving is equal to:
• One medium-size fruit
• 1/2 cup raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruits (in 100% juice) or vegetables
• 3/4 cup (6 oz.) 100% fruit or vegetable juice
• 1/2 cup cooked, canned or frozen legumes (beans and peas)
• 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
• 1/4 cup dried fruit

Principle 4: Water yourself down
After a thorough food analysis, I often hear myself saying to clients, “You’re not sick, you’re thirsty!” The body relies on water for proper elimination, for optimal digestion and for basic cellular function. Without it, a myriad of symptoms can arise such as constipation, lack of energy, poor skin, and weight gain. Nutritional changes often take time and focus. That said, by simply increasing your consumption of water per day in the form of distilled water, herbal teas or watered down juice, you will jumpstart your internal spring cleaning process!
Other high quality, nutrient-dense foods that are considered “treats” but can be included in the diet on a regular basis — in moderation — are red wine and dark chocolate squares (70% cocoa).
We have all heard the old adage, “you are what you eat.” With that in mind, I would like to expand on that adage to include, “you also look how you eat!” I have been lucky enough to witness the “before” and “after” changes that take place when people take charge and clean up their diet. When this happens, there is a certain “sparkle” and radiance that only comes from health and wellness.

With that in mind, part 3 of the springtime cleansing series focuses on moisturizing hair and skin naturally. When thinking of moisturizing, most of us conjure up an image of creams for youthful looking skin and conditioners for soft hair. However, the type of moisturizing I am referring to is an internal process that involves food and supplements. What are the foods that can help you look 10 years younger?
Essential for your health
When it comes to fat, there are good fats and bad fats. The bad fats that should be eliminated from the diet are chemically-created fats called trans fatty acids (also known as partially hydrogenated fats). While food manufactures tend to like these fats because they extend product shelf life and are very stable, our body does not like them at all. In fact, these fats can raise cholesterol, create havoc on arteries and may even be linked to certain cancers. In other words — keep them out of your diet completely.
Other types of fats to minimize due to their pro-inflammatory reaction in the body are saturated fats such as those found in full-fat cheeses, ice cream and red meat. Eat these foods on occasion, not as staples of the diet.
The fats that are a must to moisturize skin, hair and nails from the inside out are called essential fatty acids. These fats cannot be made by the body and must be consumed through diet. Specifically, the essential fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid or omega 3 essential fat has been shown to have numerous health benefits including:
• reducing inflammation
• reducing risk of heart disease
• lowering cholesterol
• improving mood and attention
• improving skin
Unfortunately, most  Australians are chronically deficient in this “good” fat. While the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat is approximately 1:1, most of us have a ratio between 20:1 and 30:1.
Omega 3 sources
Omega-3 fat is available in several food sources, such as flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, cold-water fish (tuna and salmon), omega-3 eggs, nuts (almonds, walnuts) and seeds. However, it is often difficult to consume enough food sources to receive an ideal amount of omega-3. In addition, the safety of eating fish such as salmon and tuna has come under investigation recently. Although fish is a wonderful source of protein, selenium, vitamin D and omega-3 essential fat, the level of toxicity showing in up our waters and fish is disconcerting. For example, Health Canada has recently set guidelines on the limits of white albacore tuna that should be eaten due to high mercury levels. This does not mean that tuna needs to be eliminated from the diet, but it should not be overly consumed. For more information, click here. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
In addition to eating omega 3 rich foods, a daily supplement of distilled fish oil is also advisable.
Tips to boost your omega 3 intake and improve your skin
• Sprinkle some walnuts on your salad or put almonds in your morning yogurt
• Purchase omega 3 eggs instead of regular egg. Omega 3 eggs contain approximately 300 mg of omega 3
• Supplement with a fish oil daily
• Eat fish twice per week
• Use 1 tsp of flaxseed oil in your morning shake — store oil in fridge
When it comes to these healthy fats, think “sprinkling.” Fats have more than twice the calories of proteins and carbohydrates and do not need to be eaten in the same quantity.

The fourth and final part of our detox series has little to do with what you are eating, but rather focuses on how you are eating. When practiced, certain food behaviours can have dramatic positive effects on weight loss, digestion and overall health. Simply implement the recommendations below for a mere two weeks and you will make a positive difference on your health.
The food behaviours outlined below emphasize consciousness eating. Unfortunately, in today’s rushed and busy world, we have become accustomed to eating in a hurry and dining out on fast food. This practice promotes excess eating and mindlessly munching on the wrong types of foods. In essence, a detachment from our true hunger signal occurs and our health and weight suffer.

The four steps to consciousness eating to improve health and wellness are:
Step 1. Eat breakfast!
Research has shown us time and time again that people who front load their day and eat breakfast are healthier, have more energy and lose more weight in the long run. While breakfast skippers think they are saving on calories and losing weight, they are in fact doing the opposite. I often hear people lament that they are not hungry in the morning and could not possibly eat. Keep in mind, you do not have to eat within minutes of rising out of bed. However, it is advisable to eat a small amount of healthy food options before going to work or school within 1-2 hours of rising. Examples of healthy breakfast options include:
• Protein shake
• Cottage cheese, fruit and nuts
• Yogurt, fruit and nuts
• Egg white omelet
• Poached egg with whole grain toast
• All-bran cereal with milk

Step 2. Eat until you are sufficiently sufficed, not stuffed
Most of us gobble down our meals within 5-10 minutes. In addition to not digesting and chewing our food properly, this fast pace of eating does not give the body the time to register a “full sensation.” In fact, it takes approximately 20 minutes for the stretch receptor to reach the brain and register a signal that you are satiated. Try to slow down your meal by chewing your food well, using your utensils, talking to your family. By making mealtime last a minimum of 20 minutes, you will feel fuller, and therefore consume less calories.

Step 3. Do not count calories for life
When first beginning to lose weight, most people follow a program or a plan to take the pounds off. While there are many good programs on the market, I have seen too many people fall off their program, only to gain the weight back. This is why 90 to 95 per cent of all dieters eventually gain the weight back. Don’t misunderstand — there are many wonderful weight loss books, programs, etc., on the market that can help with the initial weight that needs to be lost. However, in addition to this, it is also critical to become a student of nutrition. This is essential when you fall off your program (which you will at one point or another), because you will have the basic fundamental nutritional skills to climb back onto the heath wagon without feelings of deprivation. As one of the most powerful tools we have for health and disease prevention, learning the basics of nutrition is one of the most valuable assets you can offer yourself and your family. Keep in mind that any diet that overly restricts the intake of calories, carbohydrates or fats is not a sustainable diet.

Step 4. Do not eat past 7p.m.
When implementing behavioural changes, those related to food are often the hardest to make. That being said, it is often difficult for people to change their habit of late-night eating. Unfortunately, the pattern of skipping breakfast, eating a fast food lunch and a late night dinner of pasta, bread and other starches is a one-way ticket to weight gain and fatigue. Instead of falling into this vicious cycle, try to eat dinner no later than 7p.m. In addition, dinner is the perfect meal to maximize protein and vegetables and put less emphasis on grains. If you do eat a grain, try to select whole grain breads, pastas or brown rice. If the urge to munch does creep up later in the evening, satiate the feeling by munching on “free foods” such as cucumbers, celery or broccoli florets. In addition, drinking herbal tea or water helps to fill you up and cut down on sugar cravings.
Wishing you a healthy and happy road filled with delicious and healthy food options. Bon appetite!

Information sourced from: http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=1200830

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