I never grow tired of discussing exactly what’s wrong with the traditional Western diet and campaigning for change! If you look what Americans eat in a typical day, it’s just shocking to see what people call food. Much of what people ingest barely resembles food as we traditionally know it. In fact, I’m guessing if you showed your great-great grandparents some of the processed junk so many people eat today, they would not even recognize it as food.
The Western Diet Is Not Working
I understand the allure of convenience foods that come in packages, bottles, cans, bags, and boxes. They are easy to prepare (some don’t require any preparation at all). You can gulp them down in a car as you run from one activity to another. They suit a modern American palate accustomed to extreme levels of sweetness and saltiness. I also understand the draw of fast foods. The fast food industry spends billions of dollars every year convincing the American public their far is delicious, convenient, and cheap. And it’s paying off. Fast and convenience foods now make up a significant portion of the Western diet. Unfortunately, eating that way is making us sicker.
- More than 1/3 of American adults and about 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese. This is a dramatic rise in obesity prevalence over the past 25 years.
- 8.3 percent of the population has diabetes, with 1.9 million new cases diagnosed annually.
- 12.8 percent of Americans have heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in this country.
- Autoimmune disorders are also on the rise, with approximately 24 million Americans suffering from some form of autoimmune disorder.
- Cancer rates are on the rise globally, including rates of breast and cervical cancers.
Fortunately, you can make dietary changes that can help protect you from many health problems, reverse others, and generate overall health and beauty. While I outline these dietary changes in The Beauty Detox Solution, let’s take a look at the top ten most significant changes you can make to better your health.
1 – Eat Real Food
I am a firm believer that real foods don’t come in packages with long lists of ingredients. Processed and fast foods contain chemicals, toxic ingredients, and things that used to be food but have been so mechanically and chemically altered that they no longer resemble anything healthy or edible. You’ll find the real foods at farmer’s markets where growers sell fresh, organic fruits and vegetables that have been raised in healthy soils. This produce has only traveled a few miles to get from the farm to your table. Whenever possible, eat seasonal, local, minimally processed, organic produce that is alive with enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. If you are a meat eater, I also recommend purchasing your animal protein locally from ranchers that practice sustainable feed, organic, non-hormonal, non-antibiotic ranching. If you don’t want to give up your animal protein, then I recommend minimizing its consumption to just a day or two each week. You also should cut out sugar, caffeine, and carbonated beverages.
2 – Start Your Day with a Glowing Green Smoothie
The Glowing Green Smoothie is one of the foundations of The Beauty Detox Solution. The GGS contains healthy, digestible plants and enzymes that give you energy and nutrients. In one 16-20 ounce serving, you will get more greens than most people get in a week- or more! Additionally, because it is blended and digests so easily, your body doesn’t have to waste energy on digestion so you have more for other functions.
You can modify the GGS recipe to make it work for you. Even if you are in the Blossoming Beauty phase (an anti-Candida plan), you can try making it with only green apple as the only fruit plus some liquid stevia to sweeten it further, as needed.
3 – Eat Alkaline
Aim for an 80%/20% balance of alkaline to acidic foods in your diet. Your body has a narrow range of pH at which it functions in a healthy manner, and when you eat foods that are metabolically acidic, you throw off that balance. Plant foods are highly alkaline and should make up the bulk of your diet. Acidic foods include:
- Animal protein
- Corn products and bi-products
- Sugar and corn syrup
4 – Probiotics and Enzymes
Enzymes help you fully digest the foods you eat, leaving your digestive system clean and your body energized. Probiotics create healthy gut flora, which supports better immunity and nutrient absorption. I recommend you both take a probiotic and an enzyme supplement and eat my Probiotic and Enzyme salad daily, which provided a whole food-based source of these important entities.
5 – Eat Light to Heavy
If you start your day with something heavy, then you’ll hamper your digestion of other foods throughout the day. I compare it to sending a Ferrari down a roadway after a Mack truck. The truck will move slowly, blocking the way while the high-performance Ferrari gets stuck behind it with nowhere to go.
This is why I recommend starting with a GGS followed by oat groats (if you are still hungry or transitioning from heavy breakfasts), and eating salads and veggies paired with avocado or some healthy soups or grains at lunch, then at dinner you can include “heavier” items or dishes (and this is where your animal protein would go, if you eat it), as you have until the next morning to digest it. Just be sure to eat dinner 3-4 hours before going to bed.
6 – Go Organic
Organic produce helps you avoid toxic pesticides and chemicals that build up in the plant foods, and organic food may be much higher in mineral content, due to higher quality soil that is not over-farmed. If you do eat conventionally grown produce, be sure to wash it well using a plant wash or diluted apple cider vinegar.
7 – Eliminate Dairy
This is something you can do right now, with no additional expense. Dairy products have become pretty firmly entrenched in the Western diet. Unfortunately, dairy is one of the worst foods you can eat.
- It is one of top eight most allergenic foods. In fact, the World Allergy Organization has identified cow’s milk allergy (CMA) as a “world-wide public health problem.”
- It contains the protein casein, which the human body has extreme difficulty processing.
- It contains the sugar lactose, which causes digestive symptoms in up to 30 percent of the population.
- Cow’s milk may also contain contaminates like hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals that increase your body’s toxic load. In the United States, some farmers give their cattle rBGH, a synthetic bovine growth hormone that increases milk production. According to the American Cancer Society, milk from rBGH cattle contains higher levels of IGF-1, a hormone that facilitates the cell proliferation associated with certain cancers.
- Dairy products often contain packaging migrants, which are toxic substances from the packaging that seep into the dairy products themselves. For example, one study in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, showed that approximately 10 percent of butter samples purchased randomly at Dallas grocery stores were contaminated with polybromited diphenyl ether (PDBE), a flame-retardant linked with thyroid and neurobehavioral changes.
8 – Eliminate Gluten
Gluten is a sticky grain protein found in wheat (and spelt), rye, and barley. It is also present in numerous other products, including soy sauce, gravy, beer, rice milk, malt, and many flavorings.
Gluten is very difficult for the human body to process. In a significant portion of people consuming gluten, it triggers an immune system response that ranges from an allergic reaction (up to and including anaphylaxis) to damaging the intestinal villi that absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. In extreme cases, people with celiac disease (an autoimmune form of gluten intolerance) may sustain such severe damage to their villi that they are rendered completely incapable of absorbing nutrients from food.
A 2011 study printed in BMC Medicineevaluated non-celiac gluten sensitivity and showed that subjects displayed gastrointestinal and other symptoms that, while less severe than celiac disease, still triggered an undesirable immune system response. Other gluten reactions may be less severe and include headaches, fatigue, digestive symptoms, depression, and paresthesia.
Even if you do not believe you have a sensitivity to gluten, there are so many more nutritious, mineral-rich grains and grain products to upgrade to, including quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat and brown rice. When you upgrade to these grains, it naturally crowds the gluten out of your diet.
9 – No Water with Meals
There’s no doubt you need to drink plenty of fresh water, but not with meals. Drinking water with meals dilutes your digestive juices, slowing digestion and cutting into your energy. Instead, avoid drinking large amounts of water for 30 minutes before or an hour after meals.
Alessandro Fiocchi et al., “World Allergy Organization Diagnosis and Rationale Against Cow’s Milk Allergy (DRACMA) Guidelines,” WAO Journal, April 2010 (www.worldallergy.org/publications/WAO_DRACMA_guidelines.pdf)
American Cancer Society, “Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone,” Cancer.org, 02/18/11 (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/recombinant-bovine-growth-hormone)
Arnold Schecter, Sarah Smith, Justin Colacino, Noor Malik, Matthias Opel, Olaf Paepke, Linda Birnbaum. “Contamination of U.S. Butter with PBDEs from Wrapping Paper.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2010 (http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1002604)
Anna Sapone et al, “Divergence of gut permeability and mucosal immune gene expression in two gluten-associated conditions: celiac disease and gluten sensitivity,” BMC Medicine, March 2011 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/9/23)