Heal body with food

How I Took Charge of My Health And Healed My Body With Food

Everyone Thought I Was Crazy

Feeling more sick and tired than I had ever felt, I took matters into my own hands and started researching my symptoms. I surmised that I had something called leaky gut syndrome, a condition that’s becoming more well-known as new research emerges. It’s thought that leaky gut occurs when the intestinal walls become so compromised that they let bacteria and digested food out into the rest of the body instead of staying in the intestine and colon. This, in turn, can cause a host of autoimmune issues, inflammation, and imbalances in the microbiota (gut microbes).

But when I went to my doctors and told them what I’d learned, they laughed at me. I might as well have told them I had fairies living in my large intestine. On top of that, my friends, coworkers, and other people in my life started to think I was crazy. As far as they could tell, it was all in my head. But I knew better.

I Was at the End of My Rope

By the time I checked myself into a hospital in Philadelphia, I had developed Clostridium difficile colitis, a deadly condition in which C. difficile bacteria proliferates in the colon and destroys anything in its path by releasing a harmful toxin. This can occur in weak immune systems or in people who’ve had frequent exposure to hospitals (like I did). Though I was able to recover from it after five days of intense treatment, my legs were still swollen, I was still suffering from chronic fatigue, and I was only 95 pounds. The bacteria were gone, but blood work showed that my hemoglobin and white blood cell levels were still off, and my liver and kidneys were still inflamed.

After multiple CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, and more blood work, the doctors still didn’t have any answers. I was at the end of my rope with nowhere left to turn.

I Finally Found a Doctor Who Could Help

After three years of this insanity, I finally found a doctor who changed everything: Susan Blum, MD, MPH, founder and director of the Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, New York. A functional medicine physician, Dr. Blum talked to me for an hour (as opposed to 10 minutes, like many doctors) and asked me about my lifestyle, stress levels, sleep habits, and work. Rather than focus on one area of my body, she wanted to look at the whole picture.

Dr. Blum’s testing revealed that I had chronic fatigue, significant bacterial overgrowth, and other abnormalities that traditional testing hadn’t identified.

I met with other functional medicine physicians who determined that I also had Lyme disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). All of the medications I’d been taking did nothing for my issues — and may have even made them worse. The bottom line was that I didn’t need more meds. I needed exactly the opposite: a complete and total detox.

I Took Charge of My Health

I did more research and learned that consuming gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, corn, peanuts, and more could be contributing to my health problems, so I started to detox my lifestyle, beginning with food. I changed my diet dramatically, removing all processed foods, and focused on eating organic fruits and vegetables. For two years, I got by on vegetables and medical protein powders pureed in a food processor like baby food, because my leaky gut was so bad that I reacted to everything I put in my mouth. To this day, I am gluten-, dairy-, egg-, refined sugar-, corn-, peanut-, and soy-free.

Over time, I started to feel better. My legs were no longer swollen, my belly no longer ached, and my color and vigor returned. The symptoms of my leaky gut, chronic fatigue, PCOS, and chronic inflammation eased. All of this was possible because I changed my diet, detoxed my lifestyle, and took charge of my health.

I Wanted to Help Others

When I started to feel better, it occurred to me that I could help others by sharing my journey. So I started blogging at TheHealthyApple.com and wrote a book called Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body. My goal is to show people how cleaning up their diets and lifestyles can help them get healthy.

So how can you get started? Here are three ways to begin your detox journey today:

1. Eat Clean. Focus on eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods, which cause inflammation in the body. Trust me, it can be done! I’ve been doing it for 10 years.

2. Fight Inflammation. Reach for anti-inflammatory foods such as raw walnuts and ground flaxseeds, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help fight inflammation. And don’t fear fat! Our bodies need fat to function properly. But it’s important to focus on healthy fats found in foods such as raw nuts and seeds, avocados, and extra-virgin olive oil.

3. Heal Your Gut. You can do this by removing foods from your diet that cause symptoms like bloating, headaches, rashes, or tiredness (my cookbook is naturally free of common triggers such as gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, peanuts, refined sugar, and other inflammatory foods). Replace these items with whole foods. For example, in my book I explain how to make spreads and “cheeses” out of nuts and seeds.

Amie Valpone is creator of TheHealthyApple.com and author of the new book Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body (Houghton Mifflin). For more info on her book and recipes, visit Eatclean.Nowfoods.com.

mindbodygreen

Food is a subject very close to my heart. As a young girl, I loved being in the kitchen, baking, cooking and creating new recipes.

But, in my teenage years, as I started to gain weight, I started to see food as my enemy. I struggled every year to lose my extra weight. With each failed diet, I pretty much resigned myself to being overweight for the rest of my life. But, fortunately, the Universe had a different plan!

Just days before my 20th birthday, my body collapsed and I became extremely sick. Upon my doctor’s recommendation, I was faced with the prospect of taking experimental medication for life. But, my intuition said NO. There was another way. I decided not to take the medication and was instead guided to go on my own personal healing journey…

I turned my attention to the alternative to taking pharmaceutical drugs. During this time, I learned how to heal myself of chronic disease. I was able to rebalance my thyroid and hormonal imbalances, gently cleanse my liver and miraculously heal my asthma.

Another unexpected side-benefit of going on my healing journey was that I also lost over 60 pounds naturally!

During this time, I used specific foods to heal my body from within. I felt blessed to also rekindle my love-affair with food. I was delighted to discover that food can taste great, as well as heal. An Ayurvedic quote says, “If diet is wrong, medicine is no use and when diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”

Here are 9 foods that I introduced to my kitchen. They radically transformed my body and healed me of chronic disease, allowing me to experience vibrant health:

1. Fresh, green vegetables.

Focus your diet around plant foods, especially fresh green vegetables, which are high in micronutrients. Choose bitter greens, such as mustard greens, collard greens, broccoli, arugula, spinach and kale. (And opt for organic wherever possible.)

Make healing broths and soups that are easy to digest, steam them served with a dash of seasalt and fresh lemon juice, or eat them fresh in summer salads.

Make a healing tonic by juicing half a cucumber with some pineapple, pears or apples and half lemon – yum!

2. Organic protein.

As you begin to heal and build your strength, you need to turn your attention to stabilizing your blood sugars and energy levels. Protein-rich foods can help!

Try organic meat, organic chicken, wild salmon, fresh local fish, organic greek yogurt, and organic eggs. For vegetarian options, try quinoa, peas, beans, lentils, almonds, almond butter, seaweed, micro-algae, E3 Live, Warrior protein powder, hemp products, low-processed organic soy and chia seeds.

3. Extra-virgin cold-pressed, organic oils.

Fresh, organic oils are very tasty, beautifully rich in aroma and fragrance. It’s important to know that all oils should have a “best-before” date, so always use fresh oils well before this date.

Oils can be used to make a wide array of healthy salad dressings, drizzled over steamed vegetables or used for dipping. You can use organic, extra-virgin coconut oil for making sweet treats. Unlike other oils, when placed in the fridge or freezer, coconut oil will go hard and set.

4. Seeds: Sesame, sunflower, chia, pumpkin seeds…

There are such a wide variety of delicious seeds available. Each kind of seed has its own distinct flavor and can be used to add variety to your cooking.

When you are healing, grind them up to make them easier on your digestion. I grind linseed, sunflower and almond seeds to make LSA, which I use on everything! Sprinkle them on salads or add to breakfast smoothies and cereal.

5. Honey (or unrefined sugar substitute).

Sweets are an important part of the 4 tastes of the palate: sweet, salty, savory and bitter. Always look for unrefined sugar. Organic honey in it’s natural form is delicious as a natural sweetener. Other vegetarian alternatives are stevia, coconut sugar, maple syrup or coconut nectar. Best to opt for organic brands to minimize the processing. Avoid highly refined processed sugar and zero-calorie sugar substitutes like aspartame, equal and nutra-sweet as these are toxic for your body.

6. Lemons.

These little gems made this list because fresh lemons are so versatile. I like to start my day by drinking a detoxifying lemon water drink by squeezing a quarter of a lemon into a big glass of filtered water. Try lemons cut into wedges and squeezed over salads and soups for extra flavor and yummy zing!

7. Sea salt.

Real sea salt is unrefined salt which has been taken directly from the sea and dehydrated by the sun, forming a beautiful crystalline structure. It’s ultra rich in micronutrients and totally delicious.

If you haven’t made the switch from using highly refined, regular, white table salt to natural sea-salt yet, I urge you to do so today. You can substitute sea-salt for table salt in both your savory and sweet cooking. Your health, your body and your taste buds truly will thank you for it!

8. Herbs.

Using either fresh or dried herbs can transform your cooking as they add new taste sensations to your food. They can take your cooking from every day food to something quite gourmet. Buy your herbs straight from a greengrocers or local food market. For the adventurous, try growing your own! Some of my favorites are fresh parsley, coriander, basil, and dill.

9. Apple cider vinegar (ACV).

If you want to quickly improve your digestive health, then try apple cider vinegar. I highly recommend the brand Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider vinegar, which is affordable and delicious. Use it daily in combination with (or as a substitute for) lemon juice as an alkalizing drink. Or use it to make a tasty salad dressing by blending it with some olive oil, herbs, and a sprinkle of sea-salt.

Give yourself the gift of vibrant health today by stocking up on these healthy-kitchen must haves. When your kitchen is stocked with foods that are healthy, you will be more inclined to create healthy snacks and meals for yourself.

A healthy kitchen = a healthy you!

Please do leave us a comment below and let us know how many of these healthy foods you have in your kitchen today… I look forward to hearing from you!

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There are many contributing factors that affect your gut health. Factors such as diet, food intolerances, lifestyle, hormones, sleep and medications will affect the state of how your body digests and eliminates what you eat and drink. When I wrote my book Perfect Digestive Health it was through dealing with my life long digestive issues and then finally discovering the way forward to good health.

To help support your digestive health, I’ve gathered my top tips on how to heal your gut naturally. The below information is based on my book Perfect Digestive Health and continual research on gut health.

1. PROBIOTICS WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE

First of all, it’s important to know that there is a balance between good and bad bacteria in our digestive system, which is responsible for the way our bowel functions. These microorganisms also aid in the elimination of toxins, influence our ability to fight off infection and illness, and help to regulate our metabolism. According to a growing body of research, it turns out your gut bacteria plays a crucial role on your overall health and wellbeing, and both probiotics and prebiotics are part of this balance and play important roles in our gut health, so it’s vital to consume both on a daily basis.

Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that reside in the gut. Probiotics support our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption into our bloodstream. Probiotics play an integral role in maintaining healthy gut function by preventing the invasion of harmful microbes. They are also involved in the synthesis of important nutrients such as vitamin K and short chain fatty acids. The word ‘probiotic’ actually means ‘pro life’ so, where possible, choose the foods that are life-giving to your health.

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as tempeh, kombucha, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and yoghurt, as well as in powdered or capsule form from health food stores. FMT treatment has also been shown to be effective for treating patients who had previously failed to recover with antibiotic therapy. The transplantation of faecal matter from a human with healthy gut flora into someone with unhealthy gut flora has proven to be beneficial in treating the bacteria Clostridium difficile, colitis, crohn’s, constipation, autoimmune disease and IBS.

With the right amount of good bacteria, you will build your immune system, your body will absorb the nutrients from food better and it will help with gut motility. Probiotic actually means pro life, so where possible choose the foods that are life giving to your health.

2. NOURISH YOUR BODY WITH PREBIOTICS

Prebiotcs fuel our intestinal probiotics. Prebiotics refer to natural soluble fibres that feed the good bacteria in our large intestine, helping to promote balanced gut flora and healthy bowel function. When our good bacteria eat prebiotc fibre, they produce beneficial short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which inhibits the growth of disease-causing pathogens and maintains the health of our intestinal lining.

Natural prebiotics are found in a variety of plant-based foods, which is another great reason to eat a nourishing wholefoods diet. Rich sources of prebiotics include green leafy vegetables, citrus, leeks, flaxseed, apples and Organic Superfood.

3. DRINK TEA

I drink ginger tea daily. Ginger is known in Ayurveda as the ‘universal remedy’ due to its many benefits for the body, and it has been used for more than 2000 years to treat digestive issues. Ginger can relax the smooth muscle of the intestines, thereby relieving symptoms of gas and cramping. Ginger also stimulates digestion by speeding up the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine, and helps to eliminate any discomfort after eating. In addition, ginger can stimulate saliva, bile and gastric enzymes to aid in the digestion of food.

The caffeine in green tea acts as a mild laxative to get the bowels moving in the morning. Studies from the European Journal of Pharmacology also report that green tea is beneficial in reducing gastrointestinal disorders.

4. USE AROMATICS + ANTI-INFLAMMATORY INGREDIENTS

Carrots contain vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, K, fibre, potassium, iron, manganese, copper, iodine, silica, sulphur, chromium. This super vegetable supports healthy digestion and metabolism, aids constipation and stomach ulcers, reduces inflammation, promotes healthy skin and good vision. Enjoy raw in juices or roasted in soups and salads. Garlic is rich in vitamins C, B complex, selenium, phosphorus, calcium. zinc, chromium magnesium, potassium, sulphur, allicin. Cabbage juice is extremely soothing and healing for the gastrointestinal tract. It can relive chronic inflammation, sooth peptic ulcers and improve bowel motility. If I’m consuming raw cabbage juice, I normally combine this with a little lemon juice or a little apple or cucumber for palatability. I also make fermented sauerkraut juice for it’s amazing probiotic benefits. Lactobacillus plantarum is one of the main bacteria found in sauerkraut. It can help maintain the integrity of your intestinal lining and improve digestive symptions such as boating, constipation as well as boost your entire immune system. You will find my sauerkraut recipe and other fermented recipes in my book Purely Delicious.

Garlic is antimicrobial, antifungal, detoxifies the body, maintains gut flora balance, boosts immune function, reduces LDL cholesterol, liver and bile cleanser, natural antibiotic, dispels intestinal parasites, SIBO treatment.

5. NOURISH WITH BONE BROTH

Bone broth is an excellent source of gelatine and collagen. The collagen and gelatine are released from the bones to help to heal the lining of our gastrointestinal tract and reduce inflammation. Rich in the amino acids, glycine, glutamine and proline, gelatine also assists digestion by helping to promote stomach acid production. Bone broth super nutritious when it’s homemade with quality ingredients such as grass fed meat or wild caught fish and has amazing healing effects on the body. They are also high in minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and other trace minerals, all in a form that is easy to digest and assimilate. It’s important to note that most commercially available stock or cubes are highly processed so they do not have the same healing effects on the body as when you make it yourself.

I have wonderful bone broth recipes in my cookbook Purely Delicious that are simple to make and delicious to eat. Make sure to invest in a good quality slow cooker if you decide to make these on a regular basis.

6. ENJOY A GLASS OF WHEATGRASS JUICE

Wheatgrass is wholefood supplement rich in living phytonutrients and is highly alkalising, allowing your body to heal and nourish in a perfect environment. Alkalising diets help improve overall health and support wellbeing. Wheatgrass is also rich in chlorophyll that gives green fruits and vegetables their colour. It is rich in magnesium, anti-inflammatory, alkalising and cleansing, which helps to eliminate toxins from the body and prevent the growth of pathogens. Chlorophyll also acts as a natural deodoriser, alleviating common side effects of poor digestion such as halitosis (bad breath) and body odour. Combine 1 teaspoon wheatgrass into 1 large glass of water or green juice and enjoy every day.

7. FODMAPS COULD BE TO BLAME FOR BLOATING

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. In short, it stands for foods that contain short-chain carbs that are hard to digest, which can lead to bloating.

This is why I’ve designed recipes in my book Perfect Digestive Health to be low FODMAP, gluten and dairy free to give your digestive system the best chance of restoring its health.

8. EAT A WHOLEFOOD DIET

The 2 week meal plan in my book Perfect Digestive Health is based around a modified Mediterranean and low-fermentable carbohydrate diet that is rich in plant-based foods and good anti-inflammatory sources of wholefoods. The diet includes plenty of fresh vegetables, salads, fish and a generous amount of good heart healthy fats coming from nuts and olives. A good diet has always played a vital role in supporting health, which is why it is so important to think about what you put into your mouth every time you eat and drink and whether or not it makes a positive or negative effect to your body.

Enjoy your journey of healthy eating with balance, wisdom and moderation.

How do I regain health?

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Food is medicine – that’s the mantra of culinary medicine. As a pioneer in the field, Dr. John La Puma maintains that food is the best way to prevent, treat and even reverse illness. He’s harnessed the power of a healthy diet to fight obesity, diabetes, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and depression. Even your cancer risk could be reduced – over 80% of cancers are caused by controllable lifestyle factors, which include diet.

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Boost Your Immunity!

Preventing illness can be as easy as knowing which foods to eat and how to prepare them. Take small steps to fighting disease today by introducing nutrient-dense B-I-T-E-S into your diet:

  • Berries
  • Indian Spices
  • Teas
  • Eggs
  • Salmon

Full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, fiber and omega-3s, eating these superfoods just once a week can provide potent illness-fighting benefits. And that’s just for starters!

Discover the top five cancer-fighting superfoods and the best immunity-boosters to keep in your disease-defense arsenal.

Superfoods to Fight Cancer

1. Bulgur Wheat

A Turkish grain, this powerful superfood is packed with cancer-fighters including magnesium, zinc and fiber. Research has shown that pre-menopausal women eating more than 30 grams of fiber per day cut their risk of breast cancer in half. Just 1 cup of cooked bulgur wheat supplies 8 grams of fiber – one-third of your recommended daily dose.

Choose coarse bulgur wheat, which raises blood sugar more slowly than the finely ground variety. Use this grain as a replacement for rice and potatoes, add it to ground meats as an expander, or serve it as a side dish. To get the most flavor out of your bulgur, try toasting it in a dry, unoiled pan.

Dr. La Puma recommends 1 cup per day.

2. Limes

Both the skin and juice of this citrus fruit contain a natural flavonoid called hesperidin, a cancer-fighting powerhouse shown to help combat breast, colon, lung, and liver cancer.

To maximize cancer-fighting benefits, aim for a half-cup of fresh limejuice a day. Avoid drinking undiluted juice to protect your teeth. Make your own drink by blending together 3 peeled limes with 2 cups of cold water. You can also take advantage of the intense concentration of antioxidants in the fruit’s skin by zesting. Lime zest is perfect as a garnish on grain salads, a flavor-booster for drinks, or as a salt alternative when sprinkled on veggies.

3. Concord Grapes

Grown in the Northern United States, these dark grapes are known for their tart, musky flavor. Seeded wine grapes like the Concord variety have thick skin and a high concentration of polyphenols, including resveratrol, which has been shown to inhibit lymph, liver, stomach, and breast cancers. This powerful antioxidant is found mostly in the skin and seeds, so make sure to eat the entire grape.

Have up to 2 cups a week for maximum benefit. If you can’t find Concord grapes, make sure to choose red or purple types – they contain significantly more resveratrol than their green counterparts.

For a fun way to eat these superfruits, freeze and add them to your drinks in lieu of ice cubes. For an added antioxidant bonus, pop them in a glass of grape juice, which is also a good source of resveratrol. Try for 2 (5 ounce) glasses of grape juice a week.

For even more cancer-fighting benefits, indulge in a glass of red wine. This type of vino, especially Pinot Noir, has been proven to reduce the risk of renal, lung and ovarian cancers when consumed in moderation a few times a week. Be sure to speak with your doctor before adding any alcohol to your diet.

4. Arugula

Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. This leafy green contains two cancer fighters called kaempferol and quercetin that are released when you chew. One study found eating a cup and a half of leafy greens, like arugula, per day reduced the risk of lung cancer by 15% in nonsmokers. Aim for the same portion in your diet daily.

Try arugula raw or tossed with olive oil and lemon, or pile it on top of pasta. You can also try baby arugula, which is sweeter and nuttier in flavor. Remember to chew thoroughly to activate its disease-fighting enzymes!

5. Bluefish

Bluefish is chock full of vitamin D, which studies have shown interferes with the growth of colon and breast cancer and can improve the survival rate of lung cancer. Aim for 1 (6 ounce) serving a week. Grill or bake the bluefish without using oil (oil leeches out the vitamin D) to unlock its health properties.

Super Immunity Boosters

Steel your body against a season of colds and the flu. Boost your immunity with these Oz-approved superfoods.

1. Tahini

A classic Mediterranean flavor, this peanut butter-like spread is made from ground sesame seeds. It contains two immunity-boosting ingredients: magnesium and zinc. Magnesium is vital for optimal immune function, while zinc protects against infection.

Try tahini with hummus or in an open-faced sandwich with honey and apple. It also makes a great dip for veggies. Mix 1 cup yogurt, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of tahini and the juice of 1 lemon for a nutritious and tasty spread. Eat 2 tablespoons of tahini each day; it will only cost you 180 calories and your immune system will thank you!

2. Black Pepper and Oregano

Although it’s known for making you sneeze, black pepper can actually help to ward off the sniffles. Black peppercorns are high in piperine, a compound with anti-inflammatory qualities that can reduce swelling in joints. Piperine also helps you absorb the benefits of other spices.

In its fresh leaf form, oregano releases aromatic oil that is antimicrobial and antiviral. It’s been shown to kill Staph bacteria on the skin and E. coli in food. It even fights off yeast infections! A study at Cornell University found that oregano was effective against 30 different germs! Experience the benefits yourself by crumbling a fresh leaf onto your pizza or pasta.

Try for 2 teaspoons of both black pepper and oregano per week to boost your immunity.

3. Pumpkin

Pumpkins contain beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant found in all bright orange, yellow and red fruits and veggies. Your body converts these carotenes into vitamin A, which is essential for a strong and healthy immune system. Pumpkins also contain zinc, a powerful immunity-booster.

Have a cup of pumpkin each day to obtain your daily-recommended dose of vitamin A. Mix a can of 100% pumpkin purée with a teaspoon of butter. Add a sprinkle of stevia and cinnamon. Heat the mixture in the microwave for a delectable side dish.

For a heartier main course, try Dr. La Puma’s Pumpkin Soup recipe.

Also, try Dr. La Puma’s Honeyed Chinese Chicken for a complete stress-busting meal that improves blood flow, decreases fatigue, and improves mood.

Cleanse, detox – you’ve heard it all, right? Green juice this, and blend or pulverize that. We know it gets old after awhile. You can only hear about so many cleanse and detox diets before getting a little bored. Truthfully, whole foods have the ability to cleanse your body the same way many detox diets do, but without all the negative side effects many of them can bring. You know – headaches, hunger pains, and irritability. Your body doesn’t have to take in food 24/7, but it does need some wholesome foods to work properly. That being said, if you’re still feeling sluggish and need a healthy reboot, you’ll want to to focus on foods that contain no added sugars, no oils, no dairy, are free from added sodium, and that are 100 percent whole-food based as much as possible.

Try these incredible whole foods that will cleanse your body the way nature intended:

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1. Root Vegetables

Sweet potatoes, carrots, beets (especially beets!), onions, and turnips are all excellent digestion boosters, and are exremely detoxifying and nourishing. Carrots and sweet potatoes are full of Vitamin C, a natural body cleanser, beets build the blood and cleanse the liver and digestive tract, and onions (and even garlic) provide highly cleansing and immune-building benefits. Turnips even contain a large amount of Vitamin C and can help pull excess mucous from the body. Root vegetables are also easier to digest compared to many grains, beans, and legumes that you might be avoiding if you’re feeling sluggish. Root vegetables can easily be roasted or steamed and make excellent pairings to any meal. Have them at night (or even at lunch) to ensure regular digestion around the clock. Try our favorite Easy Roasted Root Veggies and learn How to Pan Roast Vegetables for quick meals in minutes.

2. Leeks

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Don’t turn your nose at leeks if you haven’t had them just yet. We’ll admit they’re not the most attractive veggies, or the easiest to figure out what to do with. But they’re fantastic for you and actually very simple to use in your meals as well. Leeks are in the same family as onions, so they come with big cleansing and nourishing benefits. Leeks banish water weight, they flush out the system, and also provide key vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes the body needs to stay well-nourished. Similar in taste to onions and scallions, leeks can easily be broken apart, cut, sliced, or stripped to use in soups, stews, or vegetable broths of any kind. We enjoy them in Sweet Potato, Carrot and Leek Soup and they are easy to add to homemade vegan veggie stock.

3. Cranberries

Andrew Yee/Flickr

While not as popular as blueberries, when in season, whole or frozen cranberries are excellent body detoxifiers. They cleanse the blood, liver, prevent bacterial infections in the stomach, and also cleanse the kidneys. All major organs should be cared for as much as possible, so when one food can help you do that, why not take advantage of it? Though not very sweet, cranberries add a sweet-like, tart and refreshing flavor wherever you find use for them. Try adding them either in fresh or frozen form to oatmeal, smoothies, or even soups and stews if you’re feeling creative. They also make great snacks, and for times when you can’t find them fresh, buy dried unsweetened cranberries to add to morning porridge, homemade trail mix, or to bake and cook with.

4. Asparagus

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A forgotten veggie after summer, asparagus is a triumphant veggie for cleansing and healing the body. It’s a powerful source of the B vitamin folate, along with a powerhouse of protein for such a small, dainty veggie. Asparagus is an excellent veggie to eat if you’re bloated and suffering irregularity. It flushes water wastes from the body, contains a good amount of potassium to prevent dehydration, and is filled with easy to digest fiber to keep you going strong! Asparagus also has a nice sweet flavor, which makes it a delicious vegetable to enjoy for health benefits. Try grilling it, steaming it, roasting it, or just toss some frozen asparagus pieces into your next batch of soup. Try Vegan Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto, Raw Asparagus Soup (if you really want to take things up a notch), or Skillet Asparagus and Tomato Medley.

5. Dandelion Greens

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Hear us out, we’re not talking the weeds you see in your backyard, but fresh dandelion greens from your produce market. Use these in place of kale, collards, or spinach in any of your dishes or even in a smoothie. If you blend them in a smoothie, add some berries and pineapple for more cleansing benefits and a tasty flavor. Dandelion greens have a pleasantly smooth, almost sweet earthy flavor that make the delicious to enjoy during a time you’re healing your body. Dandelion greens cleanse the liver and build the blood, lower inflammation, and contain a nice dose of magnesium. They also flush out the digestive system in a gentle way, are a powerhouse of Vitamin C, help prevent high blood pressure, and they even lower blood sugar. Try them in a cleansing salad, or even a salad dressing. See more liver cleansing foods to pair with dandelion greens for even more benefits.

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If you’re looking for more cleansing tips and recipes, see all of our smoothie recipes and our raw vegan meals and snack ideas for whole food, cleansing nutrition. Also see our top 15 Cleansing Vegan Recipes to Detox Your System.

Lead Image Source: A Dandy Dandelion Green Detox Smoothie and a Plethora of Nutrients

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4 Ways to Heal Yourself from Within

Healing yourself from within requires you to be conscious of the things you’re doing and what you’re putting into your body. It requires you to really think about the stress you’re experiencing rather than carrying it around with you, and to find ways to dissipate it. To heal yourself from within requires a holistic approach; several systems depend on one another within the body for balance and health. When you work to balance your mind and your body at the same time, you’re much more likely to experience better health and healing. The amazing thing is, by starting to tackle one area (for example, your diet), you end up benefiting other areas (your willingness to exercise, for example, or your mind as opposed to only your body).

Toss the Bad Stuff

The first step to healing yourself from within is to give your diet an overhaul. Yes, it has to be done! I know you know that too, but it must be acted upon. Cut out your processed foods, refined sugars, refined flour, and replace those choices with whole foods. Make these changes at your pace so you’re not overwhelmed and standing in your kitchen wondering what to eat in the middle of the day, drawing a blank, and throwing in the towel. But at the same time, don’t be too lenient either- change brings about some discomfort in the transition, but it will pass.

Start out by replacing dairy with other alternatives like almond milk or yogurt, coconut creamer for your coffee, coconut yogurt, vegan cheese, etc. Stay away from soy-based alternatives, which aren’t as ideal as the aforementioned ones.

Remove the processed foods from your diet that are brimming with preservatives, GMOs, gluten, pesticides, chemicals, and other unnatural ingredients. Toss the boxes of cereal and instant oatmeal, the frozen meals, the pudding cups, fruit packaged in high-fructose corn syrup, potato chips, etc. Replace them with whole foods—oat groats, whole fruits and veggies, whole grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth, and buckwheat, gluten-free crackers (yes, these are packaged, but they can be used as a transitioning step), snack bars sweetened with dates or raw honey, etc. Take it a day at a time. Tell yourself each day that you’re not going to have any junk food. Make that commitment each morning until it becomes a habit.

Cut back on the meat in your diet, as it is acid-forming in the body and moves through very slowly. You may choose to stop consuming meat at all, but you don’t have to completely in order to follow the Beauty Detox plan (though I personally do not eat animal products). A little meat is allowed if you don’t want to eliminate it from your diet. Wild-caught fish and eggs are the best animal protein sources, but you can choose organic, grass-fed meats, too.

Replace whole wheat products for other options, like almond flour or gluten-free breads.

Make Your Body More Alkaline

Once you start choosing more alkaline-forming foods and drinks (like lemon water, which sounds like it would be acid-forming but is actually has an alkalizing effect), your body will become more alkaline overall. Disease has a much harder time surviving in an alkaline body and the Beauty Detox diet helps you get there.

Alkaline bodies, in addition to being more resistant to disease, hold on to the minerals you put into your body. As an example, think about calcium. It’s considered an alkaline mineral and it can be used to neutralize acidity in the body. When dairy (which is highly acidic once digested) is consumed, it leaves an acidic residue behind. To neutralize that, calcium is put to work, and sometimes the mineral is pulled from the bones, weakening them in the process and leaving you wide-open to developing or worsening osteoporosis. When you eat less acidic foods, your minerals get to stay where they belong in your body.

So what are some of the best foods for making your body more alkaline?

  • Ripe fruits
  • Greens
  • Sprouts
  • Other vegetables

What should you avoid as much as possible?

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Animal protein
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugar
  • Processed foods

Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is the catalyst for a lot of diseases, from arthritis to cancer. By eating foods and digestive probiotics that lower inflammation in the body (foods that leave behind an alkaline residue in the body), you can lower your levels of inflammation and decrease your risk for these diseases.

If you seem to be susceptible to every cold, flu, and other bug that goes around, your body could actually be distracted by the inflammation and unable to fight off bugs that might not make you so sick otherwise. Your white blood cells may already be at work trying to calm down the inflammation in your body. With no one on the lookout for those germs, they can get in and do some damage. Heal your immune system (or at least let it do its intended job more efficiently) by eating the foods that reduce chronic inflammation and avoiding the ones that increase it (in the list above).

What to eat to decrease inflammation:

  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Pineapple
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Pears

Meditate

Stress is a health hazard in and of itself because it causes so many side effects that basically wreak havoc on your whole system—mind and body. Being still and focusing on the present can help (unfortunately this does not count the time you spend at your desk staring at a spreadsheet!).

Studies show that those trained in mindful meditation not only exhibit better memory and ability to focus, but they also have less negative emotion after potentially stressful work situations, like the ones where multi-tasking is required or where there are frequent interruptions. In addition, mindfulness based stress reduction (which includes meditation) has been shown to work well in otherwise healthy subjects. Lowered stress leads to less inflammation and a healthier body (and mind)!

One type of meditation studied, transcendental meditation, has been shown to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure by significant amounts. If you’re on the path to trouble with your cardiovascular system, meditation could be one of the keys to healing yourself. The catch is, you can’t just do it for a week and stop. Meditation needs to be an ongoing practice if you want to maintain the improvements you experience.

Meditation can also help with anxiety and depression. It can help bring your mind to the present and give you a more balanced perspective, which can play a role in alleviating stress, as I mentioned earlier, and lowering cortisol levels. Prolonged periods of raised cortisol levels are linked to digestive problems, depression, anxiety, heart trouble, and weight gain. Stress is often at the root of health problems, and if you can minimize that naturally, you can begin to heal yourself from the inside.

Another common cause for disease is obesity. Meditation won’t make you lose weight directly, but by helping you to become more mindful in all areas of your life, it could indirectly influence what you choose to eat. Meditation can also give you the time and focus to work through any emotional issues that are causing you to have the powerful cravings that can derail your attempts at a healthier lifestyle. Despite my very busy schedule, I strive to meditate half an hour in the morning and evening, because it makes everything else function better. You make time for the things that are most important to you. However, to start, just a few minutes first thing in the morning could be all you need. I practice the Kriya yoga meditation techniques of my guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, which I highly recommend if you are looking for an authentic, systematic meditation methodology. It has done wonders for me.

A Healthy Gut

You wouldn’t think your intestinal health would have such an impact on your health overall, but when the good and bad bacteria in your gut aren’t balanced, you can face more than just bloating, constipation, or diarrhea (though those are definitely uncomfortable side effects of an unbalanced, unhappy gut).

By healing your gut, you can help heal your mind (and experience better digestion, of course). The bacteria in your gut produce the majority of the serotonin in your body, which can affect your mood.

Probiotics have also been shown to decrease anxiety and depression in healthy human volunteers when administered for 30 days. There is also a link between stress levels and the number of good bacteria in the gut; during stressful times, there tends to be less friendly bacteria present. Decreased stress levels could reduce inflammation and set a cycle in motion that will improve your mental and physical health. More good bacteria could be one key to feeling less stressed, and less stress allows the good bacteria to flourish.

Please be sure to check out my unique probiotics, Probiotics+, which I just launched!

Take It One Step at a Time

Healing yourself takes time. Breathe. Clean up your diet. Learn to love yourself and make mindful decisions that will demonstrate that you do love yourself (you deserve it!). In time, you’ll find that you’re looking and feeling better than ever.

Sending you love and peace.

Kimberly

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