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The Plan – Before, During, and After

Before: Before Beginning

Do not stop any prescription medication that you are currently taking unless advised by the prescribing physician. If you are taking any prescription medications or if you have a medical condition, ask your medical doctor or health care practitioner before starting this detoxification program.

Do not undergo this program if you:

  • are pregnant or nursing
  • are actively trying to become pregnant (do not try to conceive until two weeks after the detox is completed. Important: all participants using birth control pills should use a back-up method during the detox and for two weeks after completing the program.
  • are less than 18 years of age
  • have a gallbladder disorder or obstructions of the bile ducts or intestinal tracts
  • have active cancer
  • have bipolar disorder
  • have type I diabetes
  • are taking anti-seizure medication, chemotherapy drugs, anti-arrhythmia medication, and/or blood thinners
  • are taking any other prescription medication that requires consistent blood levels
  • have an allergy to one or more of the ingredients in any supplement.

Talk to your doctor before starting this program if you have any health condition. If you have high blood pressure or type II diabetes and your health care practitioner advises you to complete this program, increased monitoring of blood pressure and blood sugar is required throughout the 21 days.

If you are cleared for a detoxification program, and are taking prescription medications, do not take the supplements and your medications at the same time of day while on the detox plan. Always consult with your prescribing physician.

During: The 21 Detox Plan

The 21 Day Detox is a restricted, yet nourishing diet that emphasizes many allowed foods that can be eaten in whatever quantity is desired. Common food allergens are eliminated to free the body’s healing energy and to improve gut health. Nutritionally dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, coconut, and nuts and seeds are emphasized. There are many delicious recipes to choose from including some of my absolute favorites such as: Coconut and Sweet Potato Chowder, Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, and Raw Berry Ice “cream”. With some willingness to explore new foods and recipes, you’ll find some great new additions to your routine. Many people tell me years after taking my class that they are still making my recipes regularly! I love hearing that people are incorporating these healthy dishes into their lives.

A supplementation plan is outlined for each week, and requires four main supplements. A morning drink is made up of liquid bentonite clay which binds and eliminates toxins in the bowels and prevents their reabsorption and psyllium fiber which prevents constipation and decreases recirculation of bile salts. Throughout the day the Liver Detox Support and Revive are taken to support and protect the tissues, and an optional detoxifying tea can be consumed. Coffee, black tea, alcohol, and cane sugar are eliminated on this diet, but green tea is allowed.

After: The Retox

Hopefully by now you feel better than you’ve felt in a very long time. Your health conditions have improved, your skin is clear, your energy is boosted, you feel lighter, clearer, and more in control of your health. You have the will and determination to have chosen a new road for yourself, and with continued effort and awareness you can stay on this road that will continue to lead you to the health and wellness you deserve. I strongly believe that it is our obligation and gift to feel the best we can while on this life’s journey. We all deserve to feel as strong and vital as possible, and when we do, we can be more present and more active as we complete our life’s work.

A New Road

Don’t let this new road be a detour, but a newly built highway with a faster, sleeker design and a more appealing destination. There’s no turning back to that old, bumpy road that filled you with pain and fatigue. Of course we will still have indulgences and vices and Thanksgiving dinner, but we’ll be conscious of our choices and their effects on our bodies and we’ll be avoiding chemicals and eating whole foods most of the time. “Most of the time” is a great goal. Don’t make this about being perfect. Just do the best you can to eat the highest quality foods you can afford, drink pure water, get adequate rest, fresh air, and exercise most of the time.

Also Known As: You Do Not Have to be Good (or Perfect!)

My favorite poet, Mary Oliver, wrote a poem I love called Wild Geese. It’s one of my life’s mantra, and I remind myself of the poem often, especially when I start to feel guilty about life, food, love, parenting, exercise, the dog, and on and on and on. I just repeat the first stanza over and over to myself until I start to feel better. It works every time.

Here It Is:

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

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Ready, Set, Cleanse!

Are You Ready?

If you’re curious about cleansing and detoxification programs, this plan is for you. There’s lots of food to eat in whatever quantity you desire. The program is flexible and can be modified to suit your food preferences, time, and lifestyle.

Along the way you’ll learn about new foods, you’ll read ingredient labels, and you’ll try some new recipes. You’ll end the plan well on your way to a healthier future. Why wait? You can do anything for 21 days. The sooner you start, the sooner it will be over, and if you’re like most people I’ve witnessed, you won’t want it to end!

Follow the 21 Day Detox, and renew or jump start your commitment to feeling your best. Do you want lightness, energy, clarity, vibrancy, radiance? It’s all within your reach. It’s just a grocery cart away.

You really are what you eat (and drink!). What are you?

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Give Your Body a Chance to Heal Itself

You’ve Been Left Out in the Rain for Too Long

Think of yourselves as soggy balls left out in the rain. Right now you are wet, logy, fatigued, puffy, and generally “under the weather”. The rain (i.e., food) is hitting you drop by drop and you don’t have any idea which drop is causing your wetness (pain, inflammation) because you are so soggy and sopping.

It’s Time to Dry Out and Heal

This diet is going to get you out of the rain, and dry you out. Once the inflammation in your body is reduced, you’ll be “dry” again and feel renewed and invigorated. At the end of the detox diet, you’ll add each food back one at a time. Again, think of the food as drops of rain. What you couldn’t feel before when you were overburdened and inflamed, you will now feel intensely on your new dried out body. If milk is a trigger for your health complaints, your body will react like a drop of water hitting a dry ball (you’ll feel the effects!!) and you’ll know that milk is a food that you should not be eating!.

In the end you’ll feel better, and you’ll discover which food or foods you may be better off avoiding to continue to feel your best after the plan. You’ll also discover which foods are fine for you to keep enjoying. I’ve never said that foods such as whole wheat, citrus, eggs, and corn are unhealthy, but I am saying that one of them may be unhealthy for you. If you discover that the foods you eliminated are safe for you to eat, then you can enjoy them as part of your diet. I don’t recommend cutting out whole groups of food long term unless they are causing you harm or you have a moral objection to consuming certain foods.

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Warning! You May Be Allergic to Your Food

Food Allergy Elimination and Identification

Have you always wondered whether you are gluten sensitive? Lactose intolerant? Sugar addicted? Have you thought that your symptoms/health complaints may be related to an underlying food allergy? Sometimes food is the obstacle and the cure. In this detox diet, the obstacles (all potential food allergens within reason) are removed. The cure is what remains: a clean, food-allergy free eating plan that will decrease inflammation and allow your body to rest and heal.

Wait, I’m not allergic to anything!

The food allergies that I’m talking about aren’t true food allergies. These food allergies are really food sensitivities or intolerances. They are not true allergies and are not handled by the immune system in the same way. If you know you are allergic to peanuts or have celiac disease, then you know you have a true allergy to peanuts or to gluten. The “allergies” that I want to help you uncover are the ones that are more insidious. They are slowly damaging and inflaming your gut lining and causing it to become permeable to particles too big for your immune system to recognize. These particles form immune complexes with circulating antibodies that can deposit in tissues leading to pain, joint inflammation, and skin disease. This leaky gut syndrome is one effect from a food sensitivity. The tests for these types of sensitivities for food are not accurate. The gold standard test for this type of food allergy is a food allergy elimination diet. The 21 Day Detox incorporates a food allergy elimination diet into the plan. Because the food allergy elimination diet eliminates the most common food triggers, and the most commonly eaten foods, avoiding certain foods gives our digestive system a break from the onslaught of the same foods again and again – some of which may be damaging our bodies and leading to our health complaints.

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Detox Essentials

Two essential parts of a proper detox are missing from a liquid or mostly liquid cleanse: food and supplement support.

Food!

If you’re not eating, you’re not learning. If you’re not learning, you’re wasting your time. You’re not going to stay on a juice fast forever, right? In the end you’ll go back to your pre-juice fast way of eating. You’ll start to feel crummy again, and you’ll never know exactly why. You won’t know why because you haven’t read labels, cooked meals, or thought about food for the entire length of the juice fast (well, you’ve thought about food (maybe non-stop ), but you haven’t had a chance to shop for it, to prepare it or to chew any! You’ve cleaned up your diet, but how do you keep it up? More juice? That’s not realistic. Eating real, whole foods is realistic, and to make that reality healthier we have to go out there into the grocery stores and farmer’s markets and buy the best food we can find. Then we discover new foods and new recipes that we enjoy and we add them in for good (and maybe we have a wonderful green juice for breakfast once and while, too!). See, you did learn a little something from the juice fast!

Supplements!

Supplements are recommended to facilitate the detoxification process. Without the support the supplements provide, the body may be overwhelmed by toxins released from fat and other body tissues during the 21 days. There is some naturopathic thought that yo-yo dieting decreases thyroid function and slows metabolism because of the negative effect released toxins have on the thyroid during extreme dieting. Supplementing with nutrients that help to support and to protect the liver and provide antioxidant protection to other tissues during detoxification can decrease some of the potential damage that may occur when toxins are released from fat tissue during weight loss.

The recommended supplements help to protect, to support and to stimulate the liver and the colon during the cleansing process. The Perfect Liver Detox Support provides the nutrients and stimulation necessary for the liver to turn the fat-soluble toxins that are released into harmless water-soluble molecules that can be eliminated from the body.  It also stimulates the flow of bile, (which aids in toxin removal), binds heavy metals, decreases inflammation, and provides a range of antioxidant protection to the liver and other tissues.

The antioxidant rich baobab also protects the tissues from these circulating toxins before they are fully transformed and ready for elimination.  In addition, the baobab provides a high source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, aiding in the elimination of toxins from the colon.  The soluble fiber of baobab is composed of fructan, a type of prebiotic.  Prebiotics such as fructan feed the good bacteria in our guts and help them to flourish.  Healthy gut bacteria is a key to good health.

Adequate fiber intake also decreases the reabsorption and recycling of bile acids by binding toxins in the gut and improving the efficiency of elimination (through stool). Although medical doctors consider “normal” bowel movements to range from three per week to three per day, naturopathic doctors define constipation as less than one bowel movement per day. If stool sits in the colon, toxins can be reabsorbed back into circulation. This places additional stress on the liver and reduces the number of toxins that are eliminated from the body. The liquid bentonite clay is not digested, but binds toxins in the colon and ensures that they are eliminated from the body in the stool.  Proper hydration and healthy, regular bowel movements are key components of a detox program.

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Can You Get Rid of Toxins in 21 Days?

I’m toxic! What now?

The good news is that our bodies will excrete most of these toxic additives if given the opportunity. Since many of us don’t take a break from our regular diets for long enough to allow this to happen, it rarely does. Instead toxins are back-logged and stored in our fat tissue or metabolized into toxic intermediates which generate damaging free radicals. The 21 Day Detox is just the break your body needs to release the toxic build up.

21 Days to Clean

It’s the journey, not the destination. It took me years to get to where I am today, and I’m still not perfect (and I’m not trying to be!). I’m trying to make informed, healthful choices whenever possible and to enjoy my “vices”, too.

The 21 Day Detox is my reset and reminder to choose healthy foods most of the time and to always strive to do my best within reason. Whether you’re just starting out, are halfway there, or need to refocus on healthy habits, I hope it can help you, too.

You Can Feel Well Again

I often hear people say, “I thought I was experiencing normal signs of aging.” Then they take one of my classes and complete the 21 Day Detox, and their aches and pains disappear. If you’re ready to feel as well as you deserve, perhaps the best you’ve felt in decades, this plan is for you. I’ve led thousands of people through this program and witnessed many wonderful health transformations.

It’s a Multi-Level Detox and Food Allergy Elimination Diet

The plan detoxifies while removing the most common food allergens and identifying which foods may be inhibiting your ability to heal. The clean diet and supplement support help the body to detoxify. There isn’t any hunger, fasting, or extra bathroom visits. There is only real food and lots of it for 21 days. Your shopping cart, your cupboards, your plate, and ultimately, your body will be clean, and your health will be reinvigorated. It’s not a detour, it’s a new path to better health.

Why This Detox and Not Others?

First, it’s led by me, a naturopathic doctor trained at one of the leading schools for natural medicine in the country. Naturopaths are thoroughly trained in nutrition, environmental medicine, and herbal medicine (for more information about the training, go to www.bastyr.edu or www.naturopathic.org). Naturopaths emphasize optimizing digestion, overall gastrointestinal health, and detoxification. This isn’t something I learned after graduate school. It’s a fundamental part of the training. I completed a version of this cleanse myself for the first time while in school in 1998!

Second, you’re eating! And you’re eating as much as you want. That’s very good news.

Why is it better to be eating? Isn’t fasting important?

If you do a juice fast, the master cleanse, or a water fast, you’ll most likely feel better by the end. You may even seem to get good results in less time. Sounds good, right?

Not if your time really is valuable. You’re not doing this just to feel good now, you’re doing it to feel good later, too. Remember, you’re on a new road, not the same road just repaved.

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How To Subtract Food Additives From Your Diet

Too Much of Anything is No Good

The majority of food additives in the foods we buy every day have no solid scientific studies to prove their safety. We’re told that we don’t have to worry because those additives are only in the foods we eat in such small amounts – less than 1-2%. What we don’t know is the long -term, cumulative, or combined effect of consuming these chemicals in any amount.

How Many Chemicals Do You Eat a Day?

If you’re like many Americans, your daily diet diary may look like this:

Breakfast: Kellogg’s Special K Fruit and Yogurt cereal with skim milk

Snack: Dannon Light and Fit Cherry Vanilla yogurt

Lunch: Ham and American cheese sandwich on Orowheat 10 Grain Bread

This seemingly harmless meal plan adds up to over 40 food additives before afternoon, and that’s assuming the person didn’t drink anything but water. Throw a diet coke or a flavored coffee into the mix and he or she will easily be at over 50 chemicals by mid-day.

Keep Eating Simple to Limit Food Additives

If the ingredient list on the foods you eat reads like a vocabulary test, skip those foods. Choose foods with a list of words you recognize and can pronounce.

Since some chemical additives are more harmful than others, you can go to www.cspi.net for a full list of which food additives to avoid and which ones are safer to use. For the purposes of the detox, we’re going to avoid as many food additives as possible. There aren’t any food additives in whole, unprocessed foods!

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Chemicals are Everywhere and They’re Making Us Toxic

My Message is Simple: Count Chemicals, Not Calories

Start reading ingredient labels and avoiding products with chemical and artificial additives, flavorings, preservatives, and sugars.  You’ll be well on your way to a clean diet and a shopping cart detox with this one simple extra step: read your labels. Don’t let the manufacturers trick you into spending your money on a product that doesn’t live up to its health claims.  Start counting those chemicals, and watch your health and vitality improve.

Where are the Chemicals?

Chemicals are everywhere that we are. With 85,000 new synthetic chemicals developed in the last 60 years, it’s hard to avoid them completely. They are not only in our food, but also in our water, body care products, packaging, air, oceans, streams, river, and wild life. And, sadly, they are in us – all of us. Toxins enter our bodies from our environment, including our food supply, and are stored in our fat and muscles. Some sea mammals at the top of their food chain have levels so high that they are actually qualified as toxic waste under US law!

How Toxic are We?

The really bad news is that of the 85,000 new chemicals developed in the last 60 years, a whopping 90% of them have never been tested for their effects on human health. More than 9,000 of these chemicals are food additives. Scientists currently estimate that humans carry at least 700 toxic chemicals in our bodies that have not been studied. Most of these toxins are Persistent Organic Pesticides such as PCBs and Dioxins. Even though they’ve been banned from the US since the 1970s, they still are still prevalent in our food supply (persistent!). Many new chemicals, such as BPA, phthalates, and flame retardants (PBDE) have entered our food supply and are also contributing to our bodies’ chemical burden.

How are the Toxins Entering Our Bodies?

Food is a major source of toxin exposure. Americans eat about 14 pounds of food additives a year. In addition to the artificial colorings, preservatives, flavorings, emulsifiers, antimicrobials, and conditioners, we consume on average 120 pounds of sugar and eight pounds of salt. Our food supply is contaminated with pesticide and hormone residue, plasticizers from packaging, and numerous additives. Our diet is a great place to start when we’re moving toward a cleaner lifestyle. It’s easily in our control, and it has a profound impact on our health.

Are We All Toxic?

Yes, but we’re not all equally toxic. Each individual’s body burden of chemicals varies depending on his or her lifestyle, work, diet, and genetic ability to detoxify. Diet is one place we can control our intake of chemicals. This doesn’t mean an extreme eating plan or avoiding all processed foods, but it means waking up to what it is exactly that you’re eating. Using your new mantra you can start counting chemicals to choose the truly healthiest foods available to you and your family. Chemicals are hard to avoid, but our food is a great place to start.

How Did Unsafe Food Additives Get into Our Food in the First Place?

56 years ago congress passed a law allowing an approval system for food additives known as Generally Recognized as Safe, GRAS for short. The GRAS concept allows for companies to approve chemicals on their own without FDA approval or review. All that is required is a company’s ability to show evidence that the substance is generally recognized as safe. Sometimes this is no more than one person in the company publishing it in a newsletter. (Thankfully, there is an exception for food dyes. Colorings cannot use the GRAS status and need FDA approval, but still need to be avoided due to many studies showing they are carcinogenic, cause hyperactivity, and have negative effects on behavior!)

Take Nutra Sweet, aspartame, for example. Although several rat studies have linked aspartame to leukemia and tumors, industry sponsored studies allowed it to receive a GRAS status. Many consumers attribute headaches, dizziness, digestive complaints, and changes in mood to aspartame consumption. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked aspartame consumption to pre-term labor. Aspartame should be avoided until more high quality studies by independent scientists prove its safety definitively.

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The Ugly Truth About What Is In the Food We Eat

Fact of Life: You’re Busy and You Need to Eat

Here’s the deal. We’re busy. We need to eat, and we need to eat often. Many have to feed others in their household. The time and care spent on food shopping and preparation can seem massive and overwhelming. Some days I wish out loud that somehow we could get all of our nourishment from the sun, like plants, or from one food, like pandas. Sunlight or bamboo? I’d happily trade all of the pleasure I get from food for the ease of not having to shop for it, store it, cook it, serve it, and clean it up. I spend an hour at the grocery store pushing a heavy cart, spending more money a month on food than I do on my mortgage, lugging the bags up the hill to my house, putting it all away, cooking it and cleaning it all up, and three days later I have to do it all again. Could a steady diet of bamboo really be that bad?

Isn’t “Health Food” …Healthy?

For many of us, convenience is very important. If we can’t simply climb a stalk and eat the leaves, we at least need to be efficient shoppers and preparers. Of course, healthy eating is just as important which is why we scan a food label for some key words that promise good health. “High fiber”, “whole grain”, “antioxidant rich” all sound like food I want to eat. Unfortunately, after years of investigating foods and reading food labels, I’ve discovered that what’s really in your shopping cart is not on the front of any package. It’s all about the ingredient label.

Kellogg’s Special K Fruit and Yogurt Cereal sounds perfectly nutritious with its health claim of “good source of fiber & made with whole grain.” At over $5 a box for the “value size”, it’s certainly not cheap food. The photo on the front shows delicious and healthful strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. I’m sold! Now I take an extra minute to turn the box around and read the ingredient label because that’s where the truth lies. Wait a minute. There are no berries in this box. I turn the box over again, and I don’t see the words “Serving Suggestion” anywhere under those beautiful berries. Where are the berries?? The ingredient label tells the tale. The “berries” are dried apples dyed with red 40 and blue 1 to look like a berry. The only fruit in this “Fruit and Yogurt” cereal are some measly dried apples. Seriously? And to make it worse, there are also 7 different types of sugar, 9 chemical food additives, and 10 synthetic vitamins and minerals.  Basically, the box has rice, wheat, lots of sugar in many forms, a bunch of chemicals, and some sprayed on vitamins. Now, after making a habit of reading food labels, I can’t go shopping without asking myself “What’s really in my shopping cart?” and don’t be alarmed if you see me scanning yours as well.

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Toxins, Foods and Where Things Went Wrong

We Live In a Toxic World

We’re becoming more aware that chemicals in our environment are impacting our health. We’re avoiding BPA in plastic water bottles because we’ve learned that this plasticizer is a hormone disruptor. We avoid rubber toys containing phthalates because we know they affect the health of the developing child. When possible we buy organic food, and shop at our local farmer’s markets. We’re on the look out for chemicals more than ever because we all want better health and we have more choices available to us.

How Do We Learn To Live A Clean and Healthy Lifestyle?

Unfortunately, the vigilance involved in avoiding environmental contaminants can be exhausting, overwhelming, and time consuming. Changing habits and learning how to live a clean and healthy lifestyle requires an initial investment in time that many of us don’t have to spare. Recognizing that this investment in time is an essential sacrifice is the first step in making our health and nutrition a top priority. Luckily the learning curve doesn’t have to be too steep or too complicated (just a tiny bit!). Whether you’re half way there, just starting, or need a refresher, making an investment in yourself and a commitment to your health is the best place to begin.

Step 1:  Count Chemicals, Not Calories

If we all started counting chemicals and not calories, we could reduce our chemical exposure substantially. To begin, we need to correct the imbalance that began years ago, maybe even before we were born. A detoxification program is the perfect opportunity to alter the course of our lives and move toward a path of clean eating and better health. It’s an opportunity to clean house in the present and to reset for the future. Why not feel great again? It’s completely within our grasp to reclaim what is rightfully each of ours– optimum health and vitality.

We Are What We Eat… and What We Eat is Not Real Food

We don’t go to the store looking for toxic food to eat. We don’t want fake food because it just doesn’t make sense to eat chemicals.

We’re not fooled into thinking there is any fruit in Fruit Loops or apples in Apple Jacks, but what about the foods we’ve come to trust as healthful? Is your whole grain bread filled with additives? Does your yogurt have food coloring and artificial sugar? Is your cereal packaged to make you believe it is more nutritious than it is?

Surprisingly, yes.

We are what we eat, and what we eat is a lot of front of the box health claims that don’t add up to much nutrition.

With that in mind, let’s move on to – The Ugly Truth About What Is In the Food We Eat.