Detoxification: The Cold Pressed Truth

What do you think of when you hear the words detox and cleanse? Extreme Diet? Starvation? That really testy person at the office drinking something green? A healthy break from your favorite “bad” foods? The words detox and cleanse hold very different meanings depending on whom you ask. Today, they are typically associated with fads touted by those who are not qualified nutrition professionals, often celebrities. The popular notions tend to go hand in hand with extreme diets (remember The Master Cleanse?), the elimination of whole food groups (most juicing regimes), or significant and unhealthy calorie reduction, which is why most dietitians try to steer their clients away from “detoxing.” This isn’t because detoxification isn’t real—get this, it’s actually one of the processes our body does best! How else would we be able to handle the margaritas, hamburgers, and questionable dietary decisions after a long weekend?! Give a round of applause for your liver and kidneys!

While our bodies are performing detoxification functions on a daily basis, there is a lot we can do to support these processes, such as eating the right foods, proper portion control, hydrating, improving digestion and making better lifestyle choices (being active, practicing stress management). In some cases, aiding our bodies in detoxing can indicate dietary supplements but the theme here is balance, not extremes.

Detox In A Nutshell

This process depends on two main organs: your liver and the kidneys, but it’s really your liver that deserves most of the glory. Without going into too much detail, Phase 1 basically involves a family of enzymes breaking down and releasing toxins from your fat stores and metabolizing them further to water soluble molecules so that, in Phase 2 (also known as the “natural healing phase”) they can be excreted through urine, bile or stool. During detoxification, toxins are roaming in your blood stream, which can manifest as unpleasant symptoms like headaches, bad breath, skin outbreaks (acne, eczema, rashes), mucus buildup and changes in bowel movement or urinating patterns. All very attractive. But they proceed the “cleanse high”- when you actually feel the benefits of a good detox or cleanse program!

Detox vs. Cleanse

Although used interchangeably, they actually mean different things. Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body or neutralizing them, i.e. ridding yourself of the excess “gunk.” Cleansing, on the other hand, involves eliminating culprits like trigger foods, additives and  processed foods, while also introducing new and rejuvenating items to your diet, like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. As a Registered Dietitian, I encourage my clients to embrace the Detox+, a combination of ridding toxic substances while replenishing with healthy foods. Think of it as a whole-food based cleanse without the pesky hunger pangs or calorie counting that can lead to throwing a green juice at your boss’s head.  

So Why Detox+?

Detoxing or cleansing allows us to look at old patterns with a new awareness. If you’ve been feeling groggy, fatigued, having digestive issues, restless sleep, problematic skin, food intolerances, uncontrollable cravings or feeling all around icky—a monitored, mindful and properly executed Detox+ can shed light on the root of these problems.

Detox+ Supportive Nutrients

To support the already efficient detoxification system your body has set up for you, consider trying the nutrients below.

  • Eat up glutathione-rich foods, one ofthe most prevalent antioxidant enzymes in the body.

Sources: fruits (avocados, tomatoes, grapefruit, apples, oranges, bananas, melon), vegetables (peppers, carrots, onions, broccoli, squash, spinach, garlic), herbs (milk thistle), spices (such as cumin), selenium-rich foods (cereals, oats, Brazil nuts, walnuts, legumes, tuna, beef, poultry, cheese, eggs) and whey protein. If you can tolerate it, raw is better than cooked.

  • Protein. Certain amino acids found in protein aid in the detoxification process. Many of these are found in animal products (meat, organ meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy). But remember to take into account your own individual relationship and tolerance with these foods, specifically dairy.

Alternate sources: Brazil nuts, sea algae (spirulina), beans, oats, and wheat germ.

  • Boost fiber and fluid intake. This will help reduce the absorption of toxins and facilitate elimination while nourishing gut flora.

Sources: Foods rich in fiber are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Also promote foods that facilitate good bacteria growth, such as fermented and cultured foods like kombucha or yogurt. 

Other sources: kidney and black beans, prunes, pecan, red delicious and granny smith apples, cinnamon, and artichoke hearts.

  • Reduce/eliminate classic food allergens and intolerances. “The Big 8” encompasses 50-90% of all food allergies! These are casein (dairy), eggs, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Other intolerances include lactose (sugar in milk), sugar alcohols, fermentable fibers and other.These changes are best explored with the guidance of a dietitian.

Have you tried a detox or cleanse? What was your experience? Share with me @BushwickNutrition

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN 

Edited by Tamara Cabrero and NYHRC Team 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

2013 Resolution: Step Away from Fad Diets

The New Year brings exciting opportunity for fresh starts, which usually translate into New Year’s Resolutions. Typically, these resolutions are related to health, specifically weight loss.2012 was an interesting year for fad diets. Along with the now-classics: cabbage soup, the fruit flush, raw food, baby food, and master cleanse diets, there were other perplexing programs touted for their “quick fix” to lose those extra pounds. Among my personal “favorites” were the following:

  • The KEN (Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition) Diet gained popularity in Europe despite involving the insertion of a tube through your nose directly into your stomach for 10 days during which time you consume 800 calories/day consisting of protein and fat – no carbohydrates. If successful, you will supposedly be 20 pounds lighter. (Maintaining the weight loss once you integrate solids into your diet remains to be seen.) You will, however, be $1500 poorer. Guaranteed.
  • The Pregnancy Hormone (hCG) diet or “Starvation Diet” (catchy, right?) involves injecting yourself with doses of hCG daily for 23-40 days. Despite lacking any proof/research, the promoters of hCG supplements claim it helps curb the appetite. Is there a caveat? Need you even ask? You must also follow an incredibly restrictive diet of 500 calories a day.
  • Sensa Crystals or “The Sprinkle Diet” consists of sprinkling sensa (tastans) over everything you eat. Tastans (scent and flavor combinations) purportedly provide a feeling of fullness without the hassle of counting calories or restricting one’s diet. With no peer-reviewed research to support their claims, one is expected to lose 30 pounds in 6 months. FYI – with proper guidance, weight loss programs can help you lose up to 36 pounds in 6 months (~1-1.5 lbs/week weight loss), without the purchase of additional supplements.
  • This past year, Dr. Oz promoted Raspberry Ketones on his show saying that this dietary supplement (consisting of the primary aroma of red raspberries) “helps your body think it’s thin” by increasing the amount of adinopectin in the body (a hormone that helps empty and shrink fat calls). This may sound promising, but at a $20/bottle, raspberry ketones must be taken indefinitely in order to see results. And, of course, they must be paired with both exercise and a well-balanced diet. Studies conducted are inconclusive on weight loss success, but research does show marked improvement in skin and hair.
  • The Gluten-Free Diet.  Celiac disease is no joke. It is an autoimmune disease in which one cannot digest gluten (a waxy protein) found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. Only about 1% of the population has celiac disease and 10% have gluten sensitivity, however many more are touting this diet restriction as the miracle weight loss program. If you don’t have celiac disease, wheat is not bad for you. However, many products made with wheat can be low in nutrition or just plain crappy. Rather than restricting your diet so severely, make healthier choices. Opt for whole grains and limit your cookie and pastry intake.

I invite you to join in my personal new year’s resolution to SAY NO to fad diets, like Bushwick Nutrition favorite, Jennifer Lawrence – Love her! Instead, integrate healthy habits into your life one step at a time. Keep your goals realistic and achievable. Remember, research shows that habits take 21 days to stick, so BE PATIENT.

Here are some ideas to jump start your healthy reform:

  • Go back to basics, eat more fruit and vegetables.
  • Set a walking goal: 1 mile equals approximately 20 blocks or 10 avenues.
  • Cook more and limit dining out to 2/week maximum.
  • Read labels. Educate yourself about what you’re eating.
  • Shop around the perimeter of the store. This is an easy way to avoid junk food aisles.
  • Plan ahead and avoid skipping meals. Hunger pangs lead to bad food choices.
  • Keep a journal. It’s a tried and true way to a) figure out how much you’re eating, and b) find associations between what you eat and how you feel

If you’d like to set up a complimentary 10-minute session, feel free to contact me. Currently I am offering a special promotion for the 3 Week Challenge! More info here.  

References & Inspiration: M. Hartley. 9 Fad Diets of 2012. ABC News; L. Schmidt-Pierson. Eat It Up! Good habits and wise food choices for healthy living. BellaMagazine.com; C. Tunnell. Make and keep healthy habits over 21 days. The Star Press. Photo by Ellen von Unwerth in Vanity Fair, February 2013.