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Part 1: Cleansing
I am often asked about the benefits of fasting in order to improve health, reduce inflammation and optimize digestion. For the majority of people, I am not an advocate of fasting. Most people do not have the proper blood sugar control to fast and end up feeling dizzy, hungry and may even find it difficult to participate in everyday activities. Part one of the natural spring detox series focuses on cleansing, not fasting. Why cleanse you ask? In essence, digestion is one of the major keys to health and wellness. By following a cleanse filled with high fibre and nutrient-dense foods, you give your body the opportunity to “clean out the pipes.” When thinking of doing a cleanse or a detox, I recommend a five-day period from Monday to Friday. Weekends are often a more difficult time to make nutritional changes. If following the recommendations properly, you should not feel hungry or deprived while cleansing. There will be enough selection of low glycemic index, high-fibre foods to fill you up and keep you going.
The key steps for the five-day cleanse outlined in The Natural Makeover Diet (Wiley, 2005) include:
1. Eliminate coffee. When public speaking, I often hear audible groans from the audience when I recommend eliminating coffee for five days. Coffee is acidic, a diuretic and can often make you feel shaky when cleansing. Instead of coffee, I recommend drinking herbal tea, green tea or white tea for the antioxidant effect and to help you get rid of any coffee withdrawal headaches. In addition, I always say if there is something in your diet you are so addicted to that you can't give it up for five days -- that is a clear sign to give it up!
2. Eat an abundant amount of colourful foods. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre, filled with minerals, vitamins and plant chemicals called phytonutrients that prevent and even help treat disease. My motto has always been "eat live to feel live!" From tomatoes to broccoli and blueberries -- fruits and vegetables are low glycemic index and will help to sustain energy while flushing the system.
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3. Eat lean protein options such as egg whites, chicken, turkey, fish and soy at every meal or snack. Proteins secrete the hormone glucagon which helps in fat loss. Avoid red meat and dairy for 5 days.
4. Supplement your diet with a high quality multi-vitamin, fish oils supplement and probiotic such as acidophilus. Acidophilus is "friendly" bacteria that helps to maintain a healthy digestive microflora. Healthy digestion and absorption is one of the main keys to looking and feeling your best.
5. Add essential fats and oils -- such as flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds -- to your diet for their anti-inflammatory effect.
6. Drink eight glasses of water per day. Fresh clean water aids with elimination, helps to boost metabolism, gives you a "full" feeling longer and helps to keep energy up.
It is best to give your body a mini five-day cleanse at the beginning of each season. Although not a drastic change in diet, the five days will take some planning and focus in order to eat right. By doing so, you will be paving the path for a spring full of health and vitality!
Read the rest of the series:
• Natural spring detox 2: Nourish
• Natural spring detox 3: Moisturize
• Natural spring detox 4: Awareness eating
Find out the eight steps to designing a healthy kitchen here!
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Dr. Joey is the author of bestselling book The Natural Makeover Diet. For more information on recipes to eat during the five-day cleanse, please visit www.drjoey.com.