Read an Excerpt
The 3-Day CleanseDrink Fresh Juice, Eat Real Food, and Get Back into Your Skinny Jeans
By Sakoutis, Zoe
Wellness CentralCopyright © 2010 Sakoutis, Zoe
All right reserved.
It’s a Dirty World Out There (and In There)
The increased clarity was gradual, from day to day, so I didn’t really notice the change as acutely as I did as soon as I began to eat solid food again. That was like getting knocked off a tall fence; I literally felt my consciousness drop a few notches. Nevertheless, now being completely devoid of toxins, I was leagues ahead of my peer group. I know I can use this knowledge of cleansing whenever I need a higher level of awareness. This program is so much more than merely a weight-loss or a detox tool. It is really a way to get to your higher consciousness in the same way meditation does, but the effort is easier and the effect lasts much longer.
—SHARON, A BLUEPRINTCLEANSE CLIENT
We know you’re excited to dive right into the “how” of The 3-Day Cleanse. And we’re excited to show you what you need to do to get started. But before we go there, it’s important that you understand a bit more about why cleansing is so important. That’s the focus of this chapter. You’ll learn exactly how ubiquitous and prevalent toxins are (you can’t get away from them even if you’re vegan and eat only organic). You’ll also learn (with a minimum of the “ick” factor) just how your digestive system works, so you can better understand how important regular Cleanses are in maintaining the health of that system.
Let’s start with the food supply.
When was the last time you ate something you could identify with one word? Something whose ingredients list was either nonexistent or less than four items, all of which you could pronounce? Something that actually looked like a food that your ancestors might have eaten a thousand or more years ago?
The truth is that today’s food supply is sadly out of sync with our bodies’ nutritional needs. Loaded with salt and sugar (did you know that there is more salt in breakfast cereal than in some brands of potato chips?), filled with chemicals designed to preserve and plump, dehydrated, modified, enhanced… the food most Americans put into their bodies affords as many health benefits as drinking a bottle of sewer sludge.
Can you imagine, then, what that sludge does to the inner workings of your body, from your digestive system to your respiratory system to the brain itself?
No wonder rates of obesity and diabetes are off the charts and allergies and autoimmune diseases are on the rise. No surprise that conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other ailments—some of which didn’t even exist fifty years ago—affect millions of people today. No, we’re not suggesting that the food itself causes these diseases (except, maybe, in the case of obesity), but that the type of food we keep shoveling into our mouths is so toxic, so far from the “natural” ingredients our bodies were designed to digest, that we have created a toxic environment within ourselves, one that affects every aspect of our ability to stave off disease even as it ages us faster.
The toxins accumulating in our bodies are not limited to those found on grocery store shelves, however. They also come from the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the way we live.
So listen up, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to sweep away the dirt and open up the view. Time to clear out the crap and restore your body to its peak operating ability.
It’s time to cleanse and restore.
The benefit? An improved ability to fight off disease, reduce inflammation, and slow aging. Once you learn to regularly clear out your body with the Cleanse, we promise you this: You will look better, you will feel better, and you will understand the difference between feeling full and feeling nourished. You’ll weigh less, brim with more energy, and look and feel sexier!
Welcome to the new you.
I went on the Cleanse because I had a terrible allergic reaction to some medication my doctor prescribed. After getting treatment for that, three days later I contracted a massive intestinal virus due to the original medication I took to combat the initial ailment! I was rushed to the emergency room suffering from severe dehydration. I decided not to fill the antibiotics prescribed (the last thing I wanted was more medication) and, after a week of recovering, did my first 3-day BluePrintCleanse.
After the Cleanse, I felt healthier than even before that horrible allergic reaction. I am no longer bloated, my skin is clear, and I have plenty of energy. I am definitely making the BluePrintCleanse a regular practice in my health regime. Just as great is the fact that I’m also back in my “skinny” jeans!
—SHARI, A BLUEPRINTCLEANSE CLIENT
Before we get more into the whys and wherefores of the Cleanse and cleansing itself, let’s talk a bit about just what it is—and what it’s not.
The BluePrintCleanse is a very simple, yet effective program built around fruit and vegetable juices. Although we sell freshly prepared juices to clients around the country, we’ve designed the program in this book so you can get all the benefits of the BluePrintCleanse at home. All you need is a juicer, this book, organic produce, and a few minutes a day to whip up the juices.
Then, after preparing, you spend anywhere from one to ten days or longer drinking nothing but fresh juice, water, and tea. The juices you drink depend on which level of the Cleanse you choose. So whether this is your first or your fourteenth Cleanse, there is a level that’s right for you.
When you finish the Cleanse, you gradually reintroduce solid food to your body for a few days before resuming your normal eating habits.
As you’ll see throughout the book, however, the 3-Day Cleanse is not a one-time thing, but a way of living, a lifestyle, something you should integrate into your life just as you integrate exercise. The promise of the 3-Day Cleanse is that it will change forever how you think about your body and food.
An important distinction here: The Cleanse is not a fast. Maybe you’ve heard of other “fasts” or cleanses out there that are composed primarily of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. In our opinion, these fasts are much too extreme. They lead to uncomfortable, sometimes harmful, detoxification side effects such as fatigue, skin eruptions, and migraines. The simple fact is that not everyone can handle these “extreme” cleanses. They are just too much for most people who are used to the typical American diet, which includes meat and dairy (as well as alcohol and lots of sugar). Maybe if you’re already following a vegetarian, vegan, and/or raw food diet, you can tolerate this type of fast, but even then, you will find the process somewhat challenging.
It’s important for your readers to know that I tried two water-based “fasts” before and the experiences were awful. Both times I spent a day or two in bed, throwing up, with diarrhea. The authors who recommended this regime assured their readers that it was just the toxins leaving their bodies and we shouldn’t be concerned. Perhaps that’s true, but I don’t believe it’s healthy for the human body to experience such severe symptoms unless there is a serious health crisis to deal with. Juicing alleviates this kind of misery.
The 3-Day Cleanse is not about self-denial. We both have a great appreciation for the pleasures of good food. That’s why our juices and the recipes we provide are, dare we say, delicious. Just ask anyone! The fruit juices are sweet yet have no added sugar, the vegetable juices taste so fresh you’d swear you were eating veggies in the middle of a farmer’s market, and our nut milks have been compared to ice cream and other desserts—that’s how good they are!
The 3-Day Cleanse is not a weight-loss program (although you will lose weight if you have it to lose). We hate to tell you this, but we didn’t count calories when we developed the three levels of Cleanses. Nor did we count carbs or fat grams. We just developed our juices using the freshest ingredients available with the biggest detox bang-for-the-buck. Of course, you may lose a few pounds while on the Cleanse (more on that in Chapter 2). And it so happens that a lean body tends to be a healthier body. Plus, of course, the more of your diet that is derived from Mother Nature, the more likely you are to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Finally, as we already said, the 3-Day Cleanse is not a one-time thing. Instead, the Cleanse is a new way of thinking about your body, your lifestyle, and your diet. One that recognizes the temptations that fill our world, the weaknesses in our current nutritional system, and the stresses upon our bodies. One that offers up simple, easy-to-use options to fight back against those seemingly intractable forces.
You’ll read much more about the Cleanse itself and other life-changing habits the Cleanse can bring you in later chapters, including how to choose the cleansing program that’s best for you, how to prepare for it, and how to do it. What we want to do here is reassure you that the programs we offer will be ones you can maintain throughout your life without having to compromise your lifestyle. The biggest change you’ll find will be within yourself as you wake up to the possibility of living and functioning without the toxic sludge you’ve been unknowingly hauling around for years.
“Is the Cleanse for Me?”
The Cleanse is for everyone except people taking blood thinners, because the greens in our juice contain large amounts of vitamin K, which can interfere with anti-clotting medications. Also, people with diabetes should not do the Cleanse alone because of the amount of carbohydrates contained in the juice. Check with your doctor, however; you may be able to supplement your diet with the juices. Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not attempt the Cleanse as their only nutrition; you need more calories than it provides. And finally, children should not do an exclusive Cleanse because of the variety of foods they need for adequate growth, although they may also supplement with the juices.
IT’S A TOXIC WORLD
What is a toxin?
A toxin is a poisonous substance that is harmful to your body. There are man-made toxins such as pesticides and gasoline, and natural toxins such as those that result from the activities of daily living. There are also toxins in the food you eat and the water you drink (think chlorine, lead, and even the remnants of pharmaceutical medications!).
If you don’t get rid of toxins in your body, they build up and damage cells and tissue, leading to diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. That’s why your body has developed over time its own natural detoxification system composed of the liver, kidneys, intestines, and skin and described later in the chapter. Until about a hundred years ago, it worked pretty well. That’s because we ate what we grew and raised (with no excess chemicals, hormones, or drugs added), our air and water were cleaner, and our lives were calmer.
Today, however, our built-in detox system can easily become overwhelmed by the thousands of toxins it is exposed to on a daily basis. The result? Illness, fatigue, headaches, mood disorders, and those nagging pains that let you know that something just isn’t right.
Toxins make you sick through their effects at the cellular level. Two of the main avenues through which they wreak their damage are oxidative stress and inflammation.
The best way to think about oxidative stress is to picture what happened to that shovel you left out in the garden all winter. Come spring, the once-bright metal was dull with rust. That rust occurred as oxygen molecules in the air interacted with the molecules in the metal, damaging the iron molecules and resulting in rust.
The same kind of thing happens in your body. As cells make energy, clear out toxins, fight off invaders, etc., they create their own toxic by-products called free radicals. Think of them as the exhaust emanating from cellular engines. These free radicals are highly toxic. As they ping around, they seek to snatch electrons from healthy molecules so they can make themselves “whole” again. If they succeed, they damage those healthy molecules, in the process damaging the cell by attacking proteins, the DNA and nucleus of the cell, and the cell’s membrane. This type of damage underlies conditions such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses. It is called oxidative stress, a great name since it accurately describes what happens to those poor cells being nattered at by free radicals.
Luckily, your body has its own built-in protection system against oxidative stress: antioxidants. These scavenger molecules come from within your body and from the food you eat. You know them as vitamins A, C, and E; coenzyme Q-10; manganese; iodide; and plant-based chemicals called polyphenols. Their job is to scoop up free radicals and render them harmless.
This is why a balanced diet is so important to your health—without it, your body can’t produce enough antioxidants to fight off oxidation. Not only that, but an unhealthy diet produces its own load of free radicals!
Here’s where the 3-Day Cleanse comes in. Because the Cleanse is made with only fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other components high in antioxidants, with every Cleanse you get what amounts to a surge of antioxidants. These, in turn, provide extra protection against the oxidative stress that occurs as your body uses the Cleanse to flush away toxins from every nook and cranny.
There’s an added bonus, too. Because the juices you consume on the Cleanse are so much easier to digest than your regular diet, less cellular energy is required for digestion and free radical production from digestion drops.
The second way toxins damage cells is through inflammation. The best way to describe inflammation is to think about what happens when you cut your finger. It bleeds for a bit and then becomes slightly red and warm to the touch. This is inflammation at work, a process your immune system uses to ward off bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that could harm you and to repair cellular damage. Inflammation works great in the short term to fight infection; but it’s not so great when it becomes chronic. Then it leads to such cellular overload and tissue damage that it contributes to conditions as diverse as heart disease, chronic pain, arthritis, and many brain-related conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Any kind of toxin, whether internal or external, can jump-start the inflammatory process and, once begun, make it go on longer than it should. Not only that, but the toxins themselves can make your immune system’s response more intense than it should be.
This, in turn, can trigger autoimmunity, in which the immune system—which is only supposed to attack foreign compounds—begins attacking the body’s own tissue. This is the process at work in diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and scleroderma. We think this may be one reason for the dramatic increase we’ve seen in autoimmune diseases, all of which have underlying inflammation as one of their hallmarks.
Unfortunately, inflammation and oxidation are not two separate processes but are inextricably linked. Inflammation leads to greater free radical production while oxidation triggers inflammation when the immune system rushes in to fix cells damaged through the oxidative process.
You don’t want to suppress either system entirely; both have some positive benefits in your body or they wouldn’t exist in the first place. The key with everything in your body—indeed, with everything in life—is moderation! The Cleanse gives each system a rest and helps strengthen your overall system to resist their negative effects.
Now let’s take a closer look at some of those toxins.
The feces that result at the end of digestion are one of your body’s main ways of getting rid of toxins. The other three are urine, sweat, and breath. All depend on the main detoxification organs: the intestines, the liver, the kidneys, and the skin. We delve deeply into the role of the intestines beginning on page 32 when we discuss digestion. Now let’s take a look at the other three.
While the kidneys play an important role in detoxification, the star of your internal detox system is definitely the liver. In digestion it produces bile to break down fats. But the liver also breaks down and detoxifies drugs and alcohol as well as other toxins. That’s why too many acetaminophen (Tylenol), too many cosmos, even exposure to the fumes of too many cleaning supplies can cause liver damage; you’ve simply exceeded its ability to filter out the bad stuff.
The liver uses various enzymes to break down toxins. The debris is then transported via bile to the intestines for removal. A word about liver enzymes: If you can’t tolerate alcohol, or have severe sensitivities to perfumes, caffeine, or other chemicals, you may have low levels or low activity levels of liver enzymes. That’s why it’s important to enhance their activity through detoxification with the Cleanse. As you’ll see in Chapter 3, our Cleanse juices are stocked with the nutrients essential for ensuring that liver enzymes work properly.
The amazing thing about the liver, however, is that because it is so important, it is the only organ able to regenerate, or re-create, itself. That’s why people can donate a portion of their liver to someone for a liver transplant; their own liver will grow back like their hair or fingernails.
The liver is also quite amenable to its own detoxification. In fact, researchers are beginning to understand the science behind the use of herbs like milk thistle for “liver support.” We’ll talk more about these supportive herbs in Chapter 2.
Your kidneys have numerous roles to play in your body, not the least of which is maintaining the right fluid levels. This influences everything from blood pressure to nearly every physiologic process of daily life. The kidneys also act as a kind of Brita water purifier for the blood, removing excess water, salts, bile pigments, and cellular wastes for excretion as urine. That’s why getting enough liquid, particularly water, is so important. Water serves as the transportation system to carry out toxins. The more water you consume, whether in food or drink, the more you pee and poop and the more toxins leave your body. Aim for at least six glasses a day, more when you’re doing the Cleanse, exercising, or during warm weather. We’ll talk more about water consumption during the Cleanse later.
The skin is your largest organ, acting as a mini-excretory system by getting rid of urea (the waste product after protein metabolism), salts, and water through sweat. That’s why exercise and sauna (described on page 26) are such excellent detoxification options.
The 3-Day Cleanse is designed to give all these detox organs a rest—in a very simple, delicious way!
THE MODERN FOOD SUPPLY
Over the past couple of years, we have found the hysteria related to the contamination of spinach with E. coli and tomatoes and peanut products with salmonella quite ironic. Ironic because these contaminants are all natural bugs that infest the food when regular sanitary conditions break down, yet we never see the same level of hysteria when, on a daily basis, our food supply is deliberately contaminated with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, manufactured additives, and other such substances.
How toxic is our food supply? Well, in 2002 an environmental group estimated that about 20 percent of the entire U.S. food supply was contaminated with pesticide residue toxins, exposing the average American to these substances an average of sixty-eight times a day. Even organic foods are not exempt, with about 60 percent of sampled organic vegetables containing pesticide residue, although at much lower levels than commercially grown vegetables.
The fact is, thirty-seven of the pesticides approved for use on food supplies are neurotoxic, meaning they interfere with the activity of nerve cells like those found in the brain as well as throughout your body. Studies of animals and humans find exposure to these chemicals can lead to numerous behavioral and growth problems in children as well as cancer, reproductive changes, and memory and other cognitive problems in children and adults.
For instance, there’s some evidence linking pesticides with breast and prostate cancers as well as soft-tissue tumors such as sarcoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Pesticides fall in the category of POPs, persistent organic pollutants. That means they remain in the environment for years, decades, even centuries. Health effects now linked to POPs exposure include cancer, learning disorders, chronic health conditions, impaired immune function, reproductive dysfunction (i.e., low sperm counts and infertility), endometriosis, and diabetes. But pesticides can also lead to headaches, nausea, and simply “fuzzy thinking.” It’s why so many people say they simply “feel better” when they eat organic-only.
Pesticides aren’t the only toxins you need to worry about, however. Food additives such as monosodium glutamate, dyes, and preservatives, while ostensibly safe, still put increased pressure on your detox system and may actually have serious health consequences.
The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) published a list of the ten worst food additives in 1991. That list is still quite relevant today (and is updated regularly on the CSPI site at www.cspi.org). It includes acesulfame-K, sold under the brand name “Sunette” or “Sweet One” and found in baked goods, gum, gelatin desserts, and soft drinks and often used with another artificial sweetener, sucralose.
Consumer advocates were never satisfied with the kind of safety testing performed on acesulfame-K, some of which suggested the sweetener might cause cancer or affect the thyroid. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in food products anyway.
Other items on the CSPI’s list are the synthetic dyes used to color food. While one of the worst offenders—red dye 3—has since been banned from use in food (but not in cosmetics and other consumer products), several others may be just as toxic. Numerous studies find many of these dyes damage DNA in cells, suppress the immune system, can have neurotoxic effects (i.e., affect learning and memory), and lead to behavioral changes in children.
The CSPI’s list also included what you might think of as an ingredient found only in Chinese food—monosodium glutamate. Check food labels; it’s added to most processed foods to give them the taste of umami, considered the “fifth” taste after salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. Umami imparts a savory taste. Mono-sodium glutamate can cause flushing, headache, dizziness, heart palpitations, and nausea in some people.
And don’t forget sodium nitrite, a salt used to preserve food and found in most smoked meats, hot dogs, and many deli meats. Nitrites appear to damage the genetic code in cells, leading to cancer-causing mutations. In fact, one study suggested they might be behind a recent increase in childhood brain tumors.
Another additive included on the original CSPI list and still found in many processed foods is butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). Used to prevent fats, oils, and the foods that contain them from turning rancid, studies in rats show BHA can cause cancer. While the US Department of Health and Human Services classifies BHA as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” the FDA still allows it in food.
Try Cutting Everything Out
One study of dietary chemical sensitivities in twenty-six people who had recurrent headaches found that the frequency and severity of headaches dropped in nearly all participants when they followed a diet with no monosodium glutamate, amines, tartrazine (yellow dye 5), preservatives, yeasts, nitrites/nitrates, or salicylate.
Even seemingly healthy food can be pumped up with toxins. Consider salmon, for instance. We’re told to get more fish into our diets, that it’s healthy for us. But 90 percent of the salmon in our grocery stores is farmed. Studies find that farm-raised salmon (and other fish) have much higher levels of PCBs (organic compounds used in manufacturing until they were banned in the 1970s) and dioxins (toxic by-products of manufacturing) than wild. Like pesticides, these poisons are considered POPs and accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals and humans.
Farmed salmon are also given synthetic chemicals to turn their skin pink so they look more like wild salmon (which get their pink color from naturally occurring carotenoids in the plants they eat). Since farm-raised salmon are brought up in such close quarters, disease is rampant and some farmers use massive amounts of antibiotics. The FDA has even blocked the sale of some farm-raised Chinese seafood because the fish were treated with antibiotics that are not allowed to be used on food animals in the United States. Meanwhile, some Canadian fish farmers use a pesticide banned in the United States to prevent sea lice infestation, which also occurs when fish are overcrowded.
When it comes to that hamburger you’re eyeing, consider that it may contain one of six FDA-approved hormones, usually implanted into the animal from which the meat came. While the data on whether these hormones are dangerous to human health is mixed, it was enough for the European Agricultural Commission (EAC). In 1999, the EAC concluded that elevated levels of hormones in meat from implanted cattle might present a hazard, particularly to children. They had already been banned from use in food animals in Europe since 1989. The reality is that the additional hormones in our food supply represent one more thing your purification system has to deal with.
How about the water you drink? A 2005 study by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found that the tap water in 42 states was contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals, including MTBE, a gasoline additive; perchlorate, an ingredient used in rocket fuel that was spilled into groundwater during the Cold War; and industrial solvents. Drinking only bottled water doesn’t protect you since much bottled water is really only tap water!
Drinking water in many communities also contains high amounts of arsenic, as does a lot of the red meat, chicken, and other poultry in our food supply. Arsenic is both a naturally occurring poison and a by-product of industrial processes. It’s particularly prevalent in drinking water from wells.
One study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association found a strong link between urinary arsenic levels and diabetes. People with Type 2 diabetes—the most common type and the form that is now epidemic in our country—had arsenic levels 26 percent higher than those without diabetes. Overall, people with the highest blood levels of arsenic were nearly four times more likely to have diabetes than those with the smallest levels. Even people with levels low enough to meet acceptable Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards were more likely to have diabetes.
Why the link? Researchers don’t know for sure, but it may have to do with the insulin-glucose partnership. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that unlocks cells so they can receive glucose, which they use for energy. When cells stop responding to insulin in the bloodstream, they are said to be insulin resistant. When this occurs, excess glucose and insulin build up in the bloodstream. Too much can be toxic to certain cells and blood vessels, leading to various diseases and medical conditions. Plus, the high blood glucose levels signal the pancreas to keep churning out more insulin. Eventually, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas wear out and you have diabetes.
It seems that cells exposed to arsenic may be less reactive to insulin. It also appears that arsenic may increase oxidative stress and inflammation, which also contribute to diabetes.
Whenever you consume foods containing these toxins, your body has to work all that much harder to get rid of them. And even if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, even if you’re eating entirely organic, you’re still getting toxins from your food, the air, and the environment.
Now, this is a lot of scary information being thrown at you, but please believe us when we say we are not trying to convert the masses into die-hard organic raw foodists. That doesn’t even describe us! Instead, we want to help you become better informed about what you put into your body. But you have to live your life and enjoy yourself: This is about finding the right balance.
Spending a few days drinking nothing but juices made from organic fruits and vegetables dramatically cuts back on the amount of toxins in your food supply. Plus, there’s the added bonus of giving your own detox system a much-needed rest.
Beware the Bottles of Bottled Water
If you’ve been buying bottled water to ensure a cleaner water supply, beware. The plastic often used to manufacture the bottles, as well as other food-related plastics such as storage containers for leftovers, contain a chemical called bisphenol A, which can leach out into food. Over time, studies suggest, this can lead to cancer, early puberty, and according to a recent study, may increase the risk of diabetes. Canada recently restricted the use of bisphenol A in food-related products, but in the summer of 2008 the FDA declared the chemical “safe” for its current uses.
Forget about bottled water when it comes to taking care of your body and reducing toxins. Purchase your own metal water bottle, keep it filled with filtered water, and carry it with you wherever you go. If you want your water cold, fill a couple halfway, freeze, and then fill with filtered water when you head out. The melting ice will keep the water cool for hours.
OUR FOOD ITSELF
Okay, so now you know about all the toxins in today’s food supply. But what about the food itself? Why are we facing such an epidemic of obesity and diabetes in this country? Sure, we eat too much. But we also eat too much of the wrong things. We eat too many processed foods, too many foods filled with sugar and fat, too many foods that are so lacking in vitamins and minerals they have to be added, such as many breakfast cereals. (Total cereal is only “total” because of the added nutrients, not the nutrients inherent in the cereal itself.) Couple that with the high-stress lives we lead and watch the pounds pack on.
Yes, you heard us right: stress + high-fat/high-sugar diets = obesity. Stress has numerous effects on you physically. One such effect is the release of more glucose (energy) to fuel the “fight or flight” scenario that is the basis of all stress (even the stress related to your job). This increases your appetite, often sending you in search of high-fat/high-sugar foods that taste good and make you feel good. Stress also stimulates the release of chemicals that stimulate the growth of fat tissue.
This is particularly dangerous when it comes to the toxic world we live in, since many toxins accumulate in fat tissue. The more fatty tissue you have, the higher your toxic load.
This type of fat also tends to develop around abdominal organs such as your liver and pancreas, and around your waist. Then, in a kind of chicken-or-egg conundrum, the abdominal fat releases its own stress hormones, keeping the stress-eating-obesity cycle going and fueling inflammation, high cholesterol and blood insulin levels, glucose intolerance, high blood pressure, and “fatty” liver. Basically, stress makes people who are already overweight fatter.
Here then is yet another reason for the Cleanse. Our clients lose an average of two to three pounds on the 3-Day Cleanse, four to five on the 5-Day Cleanse, and six to seven on the 7-Day Cleanse. Some of that, hopefully, will come from abdominal fat. Plus, once you integrate cleansing into your life, you will find that you really can’t handle the taste of fatty, sugary, and salty foods, and crave more natural foods both for your health and your taste buds. More of that abdominal fat will melt away, taking with it the toxins that can make you feel sluggish or even sick.
Of course, you can’t live on juices all the time. One of the best ways to detox is with a high-quality diet, which promotes healthy digestion. You know the drill: lots of fruits and vegetables, fresh foods not processed, etc. Here’s how to get there in ten easy steps.
THE 3-DAY CLEANSE DETOX DIET
- Go organic when you can. Yes, even organic fruits and vegetables may contain some pesticide residue resulting from the long-term poisoning of the soil in which they were grown, but the amounts are far less than what you would get with commercially grown produce. Yes, organic fruits and vegetables cost more than nonorganic produce. If you can’t overhaul your entire grocery list at once, start with those items that are least protected from toxins: greens and fruits without skin or peels (strawberries and peaches should be at the top of your list of things to change).
- Go natural. We’re talking free-range chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and other meats raised on a natural diet without added hormones or antibiotics. And limit meat and poultry consumption to three ounces or less each time.
Choose the right fish. That would be wild fish. Yes, wild fish might cost more today (wild-caught salmon was $4-a-pound higher at our market than farmed salmon recently), but you’ll save in the long run on health care costs! It’s also important that you seek out fish that are low in mercury. Mercury is released as a by-product of coal burning and other industrial processes. Over the years it has penetrated nearly every waterway in the country and built up in the fatty tissue of certain fish.
Fish highest in mercury include king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, tuna, and big eye ahi. So choose fish low in mercury, such as anchovies, catfish, shellfish, Atlantic croaker and haddock, herring, ocean perch, pollock, wild salmon, sardines, Pacific sole, tilapia, and freshwater trout. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration say that it is safe to eat most fish twice a week.
- Read labels. Hate to have to throw in this one, but reading the entire label is a must. Because you cannot—repeat, cannot—take what a food package says at face value these days. Just because the box says “all-natural” doesn’t mean what’s inside it is. See page 17 for a list of some particularly loathsome additives.
- Shop the perimeter of the store. If you stay on the perimeter, you’re more likely to encounter single-ingredient foods: apples, milk, chicken, salmon—than if you head into the center aisles. These are foods untainted by preservatives, dyes, and flavorings. You can duck down an aisle for spices, pasta, dried beans, rice, etc. But stay away from items that are premade, frozen meals, “helpers” (e.g., Hamburger Helper), and foods loaded with sodium and sugar.
- Shop the health food section. If you’re lucky enough to have a good health food store near you (think Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s), make it your first stop on grocery day. Even regular grocery stores now feature organic and health food sections. It might cost a little more in the short run to shop there, but trust us, it will be worth it in the long run!
Stick to filtered, purified water. Most filters that mount on your faucet or the top of your pitcher contain carbon as their primary filtering tool. Make sure that at the very least, your filter system is certified by NSF International—a nonprofit group that tests food and water products. The certification means that the filter can cleanse the water of all unwanted chemicals to the level set by the EPA. However, the resulting liquid may still contain some trace amounts of chemicals and these filters can’t remove arsenic. Plus, replace the filter every couple of months or the filtering system is worthless.
If you’re willing to spend the big bucks (sometimes thousands of big bucks), consider a reverse-osmosis system, which uses a semipermeable membrane to remove contaminants. This type of system can remove arsenic and other metals.
- Eat as many raw foods as possible. No matter how quickly it’s done, by their very nature cooking and processing break down and reduce the amount of nutrients in fruits and vegetables. They also lead to significant loss of food-based enzymes that aid in digestion, putting more pressure on your internal digestive system.
Skip the real and artificial sweeteners. As we described earlier, chemical sweeteners may have a multitude of health-related effects, including high blood pressure, dizziness, and headaches. There’s even some thought that saccharine—the main ingredient in the “pink” stuff—could be a culprit in inflammatory bowel disease, an autoimmune condition.
Also skip foods with high-fructose corn syrup, a manufactured form of sweetener made from corn (most of it genetically engineered), which, studies find, prevent your brain from getting the proper signals that your stomach is full and you should stop eating. Some experts think high-fructose corn syrup may be a culprit in the obesity epidemic. Even “natural” sweeteners such as table sugar or molasses and honey can be toxic because the more sweet food you eat, the more sweet food you crave. Not only that, but studies find that fructose, whether natural (from fruit) or manufactured, can have the same effect on your liver as alcohol. Bottom line, if you must sweeten, you’re better off doing so with real sugar than with any of the fake stuff. Our preference, however, is agave nectar, which you’ll read more about later in the book.
- Aim for the whole thing. We’re talking whole grains, not refined. When manufacturers refine grains, they strip away the outer hull, in the process stripping away fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, most refined grains are then “fortified” by adding back minerals such as iron and vitamins such as niacin that have been stripped away. Whole grains are critical not only for good overall health, but for good digestion. In fact, they are critical for binding toxins in the small intestine so they can be escorted out of the body via feces. Not sure whether your “whole grain” bread is really whole grain? Here’s a helpful hint: The words “whole wheat” should come first in the ingredients list.
In addition to changing your diet, you might want to check into other cleansing techniques that work well in conjunction with the 3-Day Cleanse. These approaches are particularly helpful for removing toxins that hide out in adipose tissue (i.e., fat).
- A hard workout. Exercise helps with detoxification in two ways. Physical activity itself increases blood flow through fat tissue, removing toxins for processing through the liver and kidneys, while sweating flushes out additional toxins from throughout your body. Just make sure you shower immediately after your workout to clean off those toxins before they can be reabsorbed.
- Sauna. Want to flush out your fat? Try a sauna. Although the sweating that occurs in a sauna is, in and of itself, detoxifying, studies also find that the heat from the sauna and its physiologic effects move toxins from fat tissue into the bloodstream, where they can be eliminated through the liver. Saunas also help detoxify by reducing oxidative stress, the cellular damage we talked about earlier. Sitting in a sauna even seems to increase your body’s own ability to protect against oxidation. In fact, some doctors use it as part of a medical detoxification treatment, required when someone has been overexposed to some contaminants.
- Just be careful not to stay in a sauna too long (15 to 20 minutes are usually the maximum recommended before taking a break) and finish up with a bottle of some water or, even better, green juice to replace the trace elements you lose through massive sweating. Also, skip the sauna if you have any heart-related issues, and save the alcoholic drinks for afterward (or better yet, skip the alcohol altogether to maximize the benefits of the detox).
- Massage. Massage, particularly deep-tissue or lymphatic massage, is another excellent way to break up toxins for removal. In deep-tissue massage, the therapist uses hands, knuckles, elbows—whatever it takes—against the grain on specific muscles to break up adhesions that cause pain and restrict movement. This focus on the stressed muscles also releases stored toxins. One study found that massage of the back, shoulder, head, and neck while in a seated position reduced symptoms of alcohol withdrawal in people going through detox. That’s why it’s so important that you drink lots of water after a massage to flush those toxins from your bloodstream.
- Lymphatic massage involves light, rhythmic strokes designed to improve the flow of lymph, a colorless fluid that runs throughout your body within its own network of glands and lymph vessels (more on the lymphatic system on page 28). Studies find that weekly lymphatic massages can really help move toxins through the lymphatic system for disposal.
- Dry brush massage. This is something you can do on your own; no massage therapist required! Simply take an all-natural shower brush (with soft bristles… not a loofah) and, starting at your feet and working your way up, firmly brush all areas of your skin. This removes dead skin cells, making room for new cells to form. It also revs up circulation, which is, after all, blood flow, helping to move toxins released during a Cleanse for removal.
Colonic hydrotherapy. Yes, we’re going to talk about it. While the 3-Day Cleanse will have a very… cleansing effect on your intestines, another approach to clear out that area is colon hydrotherapy. This technique pumps sterile, filtered water into the colon, prompting a bowel movement. People who are paralyzed and unable to move their own bowels use this approach, but these days even healthy people try an occasional colonic hydrotherapy for a kind of internal spring cleaning.
There’s also some thought that toxins leaking from the gut and bacteria moving from the gut to your bloodstream could lead to illness, particularly immune system malfunctions, so periodically detoxifying the colon might be a good idea. You can do your own colonic irrigation with any drugstore enema kit or with a colonic irrigation system, which requires a physician’s prescription. If you choose to try the latter approach, find a therapist certified by and affiliated with the International Association of Colon Hydrotherapy (www.i-act.org; 210-366-2888). Also check with your state medical board—some states require licensure or certification for colonic irrigators. We can promise you that colonic cleansing is not gross or scary, even if it sounds that way. You won’t believe how good you’ll feel.
The Lymphatic System
If ever there were a body system that really got no respect, the lymphatic system would be it. A series of vessels, tissues, and organs, the lymphatic systems runs in the background, so to speak, of the circulatory system. It is responsible for returning fluid lost in tissues to the blood to maintain homeostasis, the balance that is so important to good health. The lymph nodes (found in the neck, under the arms, and in other parts of the body) help protect the body by removing foreign material such as bacteria and tumor cells and by providing a birthplace and resting ground for certain immune system cells. The dead material is sent back into the bloodstream for removal. Sometimes, however, large amounts of this toxic material can become clogged in the lymph nodes, leading to swelling and inflammation. Hence, the need for lymphatic massage.
A PEEK INSIDE
Now that you know why the food you eat and the life you live expose you to so many toxins and make the 3-Day Cleanse necessary, let’s talk about how the internal workings of your body can benefit from the Cleanse.
Just how much do you know about what goes on inside you when you eat? How the food you eat becomes energy and feeds the cells and tissues of your body? Don’t be embarrassed if your answer is “not much.” Unless you’re a die-hard nutritionist or a medical professional specializing in the gut and all its accoutrements, it’s not something most of us think about.
So consider this your introduction to Digestion 101.
First, let’s look at the main parts and their functions. We’ve even provided a picture on the next page (yeah, yeah, more than you wanted to know but there it is).
Digestion begins in your mouth. As you chew that steak dinner (grass-fed beef, of course), saliva released by tiny glands in your mouth both moistens your food and breaks it down via special enzymes. Before you know it, you’ve formed a glob of food called a bolus. Next thing you know, you’ve swallowed this masticated mess and from then on what happens to it is out of your direct control.
What Is an Enzyme?
Throughout this book, you’ll hear quite a bit about enzymes. So here’s a good spot to explain them. An enzyme is an organic substance that acts as a catalyst to speed the rate of a chemical reaction without altering the reaction. Today we know of at least 700 different enzymes. Some work by accelerating the rate of breakdown through a substance’s interaction with water; others accelerate oxidation reactions; and the third major type, called “reducing enzymes,” remove oxygen from substances.
Enzymes perform a variety of jobs in your body, from speeding digestion to releasing energy so your heart can beat and your lungs expand and contract. They also digest cells after they die. For instance, the enzyme trypsin is used in medical treatments to clear out debris and dead tissue from wounds and burns.
Without enzymes, carbohydrates couldn’t be turned into glucose or proteins into amino acids. Enzymes are also incredibly powerful; for instance, about one ounce of pepsin, the main enzyme found in stomach acid, can digest about a ton of egg whites (the purest protein known) in just a few hours.
The raw juices you drink during a Cleanse are chock full of highly potent enzymes that have not been killed through pasteurization. They are critical to the success of your Cleanse, and the reason why you must drink your juice as soon as you make it.
The journey from the mouth to, uh, the bathroom begins with the esophagus, a 10- to 13-inch tube that moves food not through gravity but through a series of muscular contractions weirdly similar to what happens when you squeeze sausage from its casing. Nice imagery, huh?
At the bottom of the esophagus a ring of muscle called a sphincter opens to let the bolus drop into the stomach. Voilà! Your steak dinner has just arrived in digestion land. Here’s where the real work begins. The stomach secretes gastric juice, a combination of a digestive enzyme called pepsin and an acid so strong that if some were to spill on you, it could eat through your clothing in no time.
All that acid serves two purposes: further breaking down your food and killing any bacteria or other nasty bugs that came in with the food (obviously, as recent food scares have shown, this is a less-than-perfect system). Anyway, after about two to six hours, that bolus is transformed into the lovely-sounding chyme and squirted through another muscular ring into the intestine like the proverbial you-know-what through a goose.
Two words about the intestine: 11 feet. That’s how long this coiled tube that runs from the stomach to the anus would be if you took it out, hung it from a ceiling hook, and let it dangle down.
Okay, now that you’ve got that picture firmly embedded in your brain, let’s move on. Once in the intestine, the chyme mixes with some more potent chemicals such as bile, which breaks down fat, pancreatic juice, and more enzymes. Lactase, for instance, breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk and other unfermented dairy products (hence the phrase “lactose intolerant,” which refers to your body’s inability to produce enough lactase to break down lactose).
The chemicals the chyme encounters in the small intestine continue to break down the substance-formerly-known-as-food into molecular components such as glucose (sugar), amino acids (from the protein), and fatty acids (from the fat). These molecules glide through the intestinal wall into tiny blood vessels like ghosts moving through a haunted house. Then they travel through the bloodstream, where needy cells snatch them up.
Okay, back to the intestine. Unfortunately, not all of that chyme can be broken down into nutritional molecules. The remainder moves into the large intestine, called the colon. It absorbs any water then holds the leftover chyme in its lower part (also called the bowel) for the following morning and your daily BM.
That smell in the bathroom? It’s the result of bacteria called E. coli that the chyme picked up in the large intestine. These bacteria snack on some of the indigestible material left from the T-bone, in the process producing that stink. Interestingly, the less meat you eat, the less it smells because there’s less indigestible material left over.
So there you are. Every morning (or afternoon or evening) when you go to the bathroom, you discharge a large amount of toxins from your body—all without your even being aware of the work that occurred to make it possible.
In the next chapter, we look at some of the science behind the 3-Day Cleanse and how it can help reduce illness and improve health.
Improve Your Digestion (Beyond the 3-Day Cleanse)
The 3-Day Cleanse will improve your digestion. That’s the top-line information you need to take away from this chapter. But as we said earlier, even we don’t live on juice 24/7! So how can you improve your digestion when you’re not cleansing? Read on.
- Follow the right kind of diet. We believe very strongly in a mostly raw, mostly vegetarian diet eaten along the principles of “food combining.” Food combining is a way of eating that recognizes that different enzymes are responsible for breaking down different foods. Therefore, you try not to mix certain foods that require different enzymes and that are broken down at different rates. We will explain all this in much more detail in Chapter 7, but for now, we ask that you keep an open mind about it. Eating this way enables your digestive system to work in a more structured, organized manner, reducing that overstuffed, bloated feeling common with the typical American diet. With food combining, eating becomes less about what you’re eating and more about how and when you’re eating, so you can still indulge in certain things you might otherwise feel you’d need to eliminate.
- Stay active. If you’re constipated, chances are the first thing your doctor will ask is, “Are you exercising?” You simply cannot expect things to work as they should if the only movement you get is from your desk or your couch to the kitchen or bathroom! You have to get out there and move if you want to keep everything inside, ah… moving! We’re not talking 26-mile marathons here. A 30-minute walk every day should help immensely. And don’t discount “nonexercise” exercise like dancing, yard work, cleaning your house, washing your car, and even sex. They all involve twisting and moving your body, increase oxygen intake, and induce you to drink more liquids—all of which will help with digestion.
- Say ohhmmm. Yoga, Pilates, or other movement-based programs that use a combination of stretching and deep breathing to strengthen muscles and improve blood flow are ideal for digestion. They are also known stress relievers, which is critically important to good digestion. Believe it or not, your gut contains some of the same mood-related hormones as your brain, particularly serotonin. In fact, some consider the gut a second brain. That’s why you get butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, can’t eat or go to the bathroom when you’re stressed, or get diarrhea when you’re upset. Also, when you’re stressed, your body releases stress hormones that, basically, shunt blood away from the stomach to other parts of the body such as the heart and lungs. Without a good blood supply, digestion slows.
- Get the kinks worked out. We talked about the benefits of massage for detoxing. But how about for improving digestion? Studies find massage can improve appetite and digestion in premature infants and relieve constipation in adults with irritable bowel syndrome. Imagine the benefits for someone who simply needs improved digestion! Treat yourself to at least a monthly massage and make sure to share with your therapist your goal of improved digestion.
- Learn to chill. As noted, one reason yoga and Pilates are so effective at improving digestion is that they have strong stress-relieving properties. They are not, however, the only way to go about managing your stress. Yes, we said “managing” your stress, not eliminating it. You can’t eliminate stress in your life, nor should you. Think how boring (and stressful) your life would be if everything were as bland as a rice cake. Plus, even good events can be stressful (think about a wedding, a new baby, or buying a new home).
What you can do, however, is learn to better cope with that stress. And that’s important, because when you’re under stress, whether acute—getting a flat tire—or chronic—coping with a serious illness in your family—your body releases various hormones that affect nearly every physiologic system. Your heart speeds up, you take in more oxygen, your liver releases more glucose for energy, and your pancreas floods your body with insulin to move that glucose into cells. All of which creates a significant amount of inflammation and results in the formation of those nasty free radicals. So the idea is to remain calm when you’re stressed, thus dampening that hormonal response. Some of our favorite ways (beyond a dirty martini) include:
- Deep breathing. Few of us know how to breathe properly. We are too likely to take quick shallow breaths that do nothing in terms of providing the full amount of oxygen our body needs not only for detoxing but also for digestion. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, find a moment to take a few deep breaths. That means breathing in through your nose and not stopping until you see your stomach and diaphragm rise; and out through your nose, not stopping until you can feel no more air in your lungs. Do this ten times.
- Give yourself a time-out. We do it to our children; we all had it done to us when we were kids. Take five minutes and go for a walk, close your eyes, remove yourself from the situation. This is possibly the most effective way to chill out.
Excerpted from The 3-Day Cleanse by Sakoutis, Zoe Copyright © 2010 by Sakoutis, Zoe. Excerpted by permission.
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