A Nutritionist Speaks
The title of this article is a very common idiomatic expression that stands absolutely true. The food we eat reaches the core of our body – the gut and affects all bodily functions. It is fuel or energy that the body receives from nature to repair, grow and sustain its existence. The connection between food and the human body is deeper than it appears. The food we eat not only replenishes us physically but has effect on our mind and emotions too. The right exercise or workout routine will always lay stress on eating right. Following the right diet means half the battle won. A good balanced diet has positive effects that show up right on the face of a person and an imbalanced diet shows its effects in many ways.
What Goes In Shows Out
Every problem in the body or well being of the body goes back to what the person is eating. Food works like medicine for the body. Each grain, meat, lentil, breads etc. all have different effects on the body. A lot of the food we eat daily may be undermining our health without us even realizing how it is affecting the body when one fine a day a problem arises and takes us by shock. Whatever we put in the body will show its results on the body. A lot of the food we eat is treated by fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones and different types of chemical processes. All the bleaching, heating and processing strips the foods of its essential vitamins and enzymes leaving nothing that does well for the body. Rather it leaves behind toxic substances that are hard for the body to process and have harmful effects on the body.
Being Responsible for What You Eat
As a certifed nutritionist based in Mumbai, I always advise my clients that that they are responsible for what they eat and being healthy means being more aware! It is always helpful to be vigilant enough to read the contents of ingredients on the labels of food containers and jars. Most food items that are sold under the label of ‘Natural’ may not be as natural as we hope them to be. Stickers are not always true. Most cookies and biscuits that claim to be natural and to be made with whole wheat flour may not be so if you simply turn over the box and read the ingredients and content of the ingredients used. It is always better to avoid eating things that come out of a packet – even bread. It is advisable to eat home-cooked rotis, naans or parathas cooked at home. It might be an effort to make them but it’s absolutely worth it. Your body is much more important that a loaf of refined flour bread you can pick off the shelf. It is no wonder organic foods that grow wildly without chemicals, preservatives and pesticides are trending in the market and are a part of everyday conversations. A little responsibility in the choice of eating the right foods can have long-term benefits on the body, its functions and strength.
Control. Alter. Delete.
Dropping some food items from your diet can have a dramatically positive effect on your body and mind. Here are a few of them that may be posing serious health problems to you without you even knowing it. Avoid these foods and do your body a huge favor.
- Bleached and refined flours
- Refined sugars, high-fructose corn syrup
- Table salt
- Trans fats and refined oils (including processed corn, canola, sunflower, safflower and vegetable oils)
- Meats treated with hormones or antibiotics and farmed fish
- Foods sprayed with pesticides and herbicides
- Genetically modified foods
- Processed foods
- Dairy products
- Additives such as preservatives, nitrates, and artificial flavorings, sweeteners and colorings
- Fast foods and fried foods
- Sodas and juices with added sugars
- Foods that claim to be natural on the label but are loaded with sugar and other harmful ingredients
Heal the Body – Get the Acids Out
While we are stuck in the maze about what to eat and what not to, we can certainly heal the body by dropping a few harmful food groups and embracing a new refreshing eating style. The food that we need to avoid when combined with alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and drugs increase the acid levels in the body. Having increased acidity means health problems. Health and disease are directly tied to pH levels in our system: When the body is in an acidic state, it stops functioning properly and disease can take root. So one important function of a cleanse is to bring the body’s chemistry back into balance. And the simplest way to do so is with a detox.
Why is a Detox Necessary?
A highly acidic diet can have adverse effects on the body. And alkalinity keeps diseases and health problems away. If our diets aren’t providing the alkaline minerals required to restore balance in these fluids, the body will leech the minerals from our organs, muscles, ligaments and bones. The part of the body that has sacrificed those minerals then becomes acidic and vulnerable to illness. A good detox program makes the body fluids alkaline and brings down acid levels.
Coping with Healing Reactions of The Body
A detox can be a new experience for the body. Whenever the body experiences something new, it reacts. The same applies to the Detox Process too. The body will react in different ways. However, after a little while the symptoms wean off and the body starts liking the new treat. Depending on your pre-cleanse diet and lifestyle, and how stringent the cleanse that you choose, you may experience a spectrum of physical symptoms as the body purges toxins. They’re an uncomfortable but normal part of detoxification, and they usually subside within the first two days.
These symptoms may include:
✴ Mood swings, anger, impatience or Depression, Weakness , Headaches & Nausea
✴ Cramping, gas, diarrhea or constipation, Hunger pangs , Body or joint aches , Wild dreams
✴ Skin rashes or acne , Bad breath or a coating on the tongue ,Insomnia or fatigue
The level of these symptoms depends on the kind of cleanse you have chosen. Remember its a challenging process so a gentle cleanse is good to begin with.
Benefits of Detox
A body cleanse is filled with benefits for the body. Here are a few which are experienced immediately.
- Reduces acid levels in our system
- Clear acidic, undigested food from the intestines
- Flushes toxins from the body
- Neutralizes acidity
- Gives clear skin
- Relaxes the body and mind
How to Ease the Detox Process
While the Detox Process may seem hard to follow there are ways to ease yourself in it and get the most out of it for your body, mind and spirit. Here are some dietary and lifestyle tips for the week leading up to the cleanse to help mellow the physical healing reactions you might experience.
- If you don’t drink much water, start adding a few additional glasses of water to your daily dose.
- If you eat meat every day, cut it down to every alternate day.
- If you start your day with a cup or two of coffee, consider switching to drinks with chicory root, herbal teas or yerba mate tea.
- If you make pasta, rice or noodles with dinner, try substituting an additional vegetable or quinoa (quinoa is a seed that looks like couscous, but it’s a whole protein rather than a re- fined carbohydrate).
- If you regularly eat frozen or processed foods, consider making simple, fresh meals at home sometimes.
If you smoke or drink alcohol, cut back on your daily intake so you’re not going cold turkey during the cleanse. To help curb cravings for nicotine, drink 1 ⁄4 cup of lobelia tea sweetened with licorice root, or drink 10 to 12 drops of lobelia tincture in a glass of water several times a day. Lobelia tea, licorice root and lobelia tincture can be found in local health-food stores.
Follow an easy diet without eating take out food, junk foods, fat filled desserts and other sugary beverages. And make your way gently into the detox process. It may seem a bit overwhelming but its manageable. Remember, you will love the benefits. From now on, give your eating habits a new head-start and get the most out of what you eat. If you are what you eat, you will be awesome!
Author – Krupa Parekh
Krupa is a dietician and nutritionist based in Mumbai and consults at our Andheri West Centre for our clients in Diabetes and Obesity Management, Detoxification therapy and specializes in creating bespoke Nutrition plans for kids, teenagers and adults by integrating correct food habits around one’s lifestyle. Read more about Krupa here – http://www.wellintra.com/diet-and-nutrition/.