You could set your watch to it. Every season Kristin battled a specific pattern of ailments: irritability, adult acne and itchy red eyes in the spring; flushed cheeks and heart palpitations in the summer; sinus headaches, constipation and cracked lips in the fall; fatigue, depression and weight gain in the winter. By the time she came in for a consultation, the high school teacher and mother of two was at her wit’s end.
After charting Kristin’s history, the pieces of the puzzle started to come together. Those seemingly unrelated beauty and health problems she was experiencing were her body’s way of getting immediate attention. Her red-flag signals not only pointed to environmental sensitivities, but also toxic build-up, caused by an overworked liver and weakened immune system.
But Kristin’s problems aren’t unique. All of us are immersed in chemical “war” every day of our lives, from the nitrates and preservatives in our food to the smog, secondhand smoke and literally thousands of toxins invading our environment on a regular basis. And the caffeine, refined foods, antibiotic overuse, the Pill and over-the-counter drugs we may be consuming only aggravate the situation. Like any casualty of war, our bodies get caught in the toxic crossfire with visible scars to prove it—blemishes, rashes, eczema, petachiae, splitting nails, brittle hair, among others.
The toxic battleground
The problem starts in the liver, the major clearinghouse in the body. The liver has to filter every substance entering the system, deciding which are good and which are not. Its two-phase detoxification process produces the right enzymes needed to first seize toxins for oxidation, and then later convert them into an easy-to-excrete, nontoxic substance. In this nutrient-rich event, Phase I relies heavily on zinc; B vitamins; vitamins E, A and C; magnesium; and bioflavonoids. Phase II needs vitamin E, selenium, manganese as well as amino acids glutathione, methionine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine and taurine. Glutathione, a powerhouse antioxidant, plays a key role in combating the free radicals produced in Phase I.
Without it, free radicals would head out on their destructive path, accelerating aging, creating doorways for bacteria and viruses, demolishing genetic coding and damaging cells. The greater exposure to toxins, the more glutathione the liver needs to neutralize toxins and regulate other antioxidant functions.
The overwhelming number of toxins invading the body nowadays pushes the liver into overdrive. It becomes sluggish, unable to keep up the pace. In time, toxins overrun the system, causing the liver’s other vital responsibilities to malfunction, such as keeping the bloodstream clean and blood sugar levels stable, generating enzymes and amino acids, producing and storing bile, as well as helping to balance hormones.
Having such a strong foothold allows the toxins to also thwart the protective environment of the gut. Consequently, the intestinal mucosal wall weakens, more toxins escape and a “leaky gut” syndrome develops. Along with the fugitive toxins, fungi, bacteria and undigested proteins spill into the blood, where they infiltrate the body and wreak even more havoc. Waste matter becomes encrusted in the colon and blocks the absorption of the nutrients and minerals, critical to the two-step detox process. Secondary symptoms soon appear, like headaches, fatigue, irritability, depression, foggy thinking, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, flu-like symptoms, and even allergic reactions (hives, stuffy or running noses, sneezing and coughing). The toxic invasion also alerts the immune system, a dispatch of antibodies set out to attack healthy tissues. Studies have shown that these attacks can be linked to arthritic, fibromyalgia or autoimmune disorders.
Compounding matters, the body tends to store what it can’t handle in fatty tissues since they’re not as metabolically active. Which means toxins can be stored in your system for literally years. A seasonal detox program can help flush the toxins from those fat storage sites and escort them out of the body.
The big sweep
The great news is you can actually eat your way to better health and radiant beauty. No more fasting! Groundbreaking research by Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D. showed that strong nutritional support is needed for each part of the detox process. In fact, fasting only disrupts the detox pathways by speeding up the burning of fatty tissue that houses toxins. That results in the bloodstream becoming inundated with toxic compounds. This revolutionary detox program features filling, delicious meals and snacks to help you boost detox functions. And with such an array of food choices, it can easily be tailored to individual likes and dislikes.
Detoxing is a good idea any time of year, but the beginning of each season is ideal. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, specific organs are more vulnerable at different times of the year. Two of the most important seasons—spring and fall—focus their attention on the areas deeply immersed in the toxic overload cycle, the liver and the lower GI (respectively). With the onset of fall, what better time to begin a detox program than after a summer filled with traveling, eating out and irregular dietary habits?
My detox program starts with a tasty three-day cleanse, then later, during the maintenance portion of the plan, adds foods in abundance this time of year. Since summer is over, we’ll be cutting back on those chilling drinks and cold foods. Instead, we’ll get in sync with Mother Nature and eat our way through the season with warm, cooked meals to offer the body additional heat. Every day, the diet plan will consist of these Excellent Eight basic components:
1 Therapeutic Oils— vital for detoxification to assist in attracting oil-soluble poisons stored in fatty tissues and to help usher them out. Includes sesame oil and omega 3-rich flaxseed oil, which helps keep the system lubricated for cleansing, boost metabolic power and stabilize blood sugar to suppress appetite. Flaxseed is also abundant in the fiber lignan. A 1997 Lancet study linked lignans to a dramatic reduction in breast cancer risk among women with a high intake of the fiber.
2 Lean Protein—critical to producing the mega-star antioxidant glutathione and the enzymes to break down toxins, sustaining energy levels and balancing blood sugar levels. Low protein levels promote carb-cravings, such as sugar—a fat insulator. Consume proper amounts of protein every day because the body doesn’t store it. And since we’re attempting to eliminate toxins, it’s best to purchase organically raised or hormone-free meats, poultry, fish and eggs. (Tempeh is also a protein choice on the detox plan: one ounce equals one ounce of animal protein).
3 Vegetables—sources of nutrients vital to detox, such as vitamin C and E as well as minerals zinc and selenium. Also their high-fiber content helps them act like a broom, whisking toxins. Eat your way through a rainbow of choices. Many (like squash, greens and tomatoes) are phytonutrients, so they help renew and regenerate cell membranes. Choose plenty of sulfur-rich cruciferous vegetables to boost the detox process, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, watercress, leeks, onion, radish, cauliflower and horseradish. To avoid toxins, buy organic whenever possible.
4 Fruits—cleansing and rich in vitamin C as well as bioflavonoids to support Phase I of the detox process. They also contain potassium, which helps stimulate enzymes and strengthen muscles. Again, choose organic whenever possible to keep toxins down.
5 Fenugreek Tea—helps keep your body warm and gastro tract moist. A digestive aid, also excellent to soothe inflammation or lessen mucus, making it helpful for intestine, sinus, asthma or gout troubles.
6 Water—to dilute and flush toxins from the system. Drinking plenty of water helps keep bowel and kidney functions regulated, so the liver only has to do its own work. Plus water hydrates your skin and enhances another important detox process: sweating.
7 Beauty Elixir—to cleanse the urinary and lymphatic system. Concocted with cranberry juice and a green super food, this potion is packed with digestive enzymes to target one of the most underrated systems in the body, the lymphatic system. This vital system has millions of tiny channels that carry waste-product cargo from the blood to the cells. It collects metabolic wastes from fats and proteins, then transports them to lymph nodes for further processing. If these nodes become overloaded, painful inflammation can develop.
8 Fiber-Rich Supplement—to lubricate encrusted fecal matter on colon wall and sweep the debris clogging up the gastro tract. Choose a product having soluble fibers (like psyllium, oat bran, apple pectin and powdered flaxseed) to help digestion, stabilize blood sugar, and lower cholesterol. Your fiber supplement should also contain insoluble fiber from wheat bran to promote regularity.
Maintaining your stride
When the three-day detox period is over, you can maintain your path to vibrant health and beauty by making a few minor—and appetizing—changes.
Ã˜ Reduce the Beauty Elixir and fiber supplement intake to mornings only.
Ã˜ Add autumn vegetables like pumpkin, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, squash, carrots, corn, chestnuts, artichokes, green peas as well as beans and grains (such as barley or spelt).
Ã˜ Include heartier organic
Visionary, health guru, diet/detox expert, and natural foods icon Ann Louise Gittleman is the award-winning author of 30 books on health and healing including the New York Times bestsellers The Fat Flush Plan and Before The Change. Her most recent release is The Gut Flush Plan.
For the past two decades she has been considered one of the foremost nutritionist in the United States.
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