Parasites 101

Don’t freak out, but you should know it’s very possible that you have a parasite. You may only think of parasites as something that gives you diarrhea on holiday in a tropical third-world country, but actually, parasites are just as rampant in the Western world, and are related to illness and disease of ALL kinds. Yes, even we, your gurus for all things Primal, have both had parasites that have significantly affected our health.

Parasites have been a subject of interest for many years now, especially since Brad started studying the work of Paul Chek and obtaining many certifications as a CHEK Practitioner. To learn more about parasites, we met with a legend in the world of Parasitology, Dr. Omar Amin. He’s the Professor of Parasitology and founder of the Parasitology Center, Inc. (PCI) in Scottsdale, Arizona. Arizona just happened to be our last stop on a 7 month world trip, and we knew that we had certainly picked up some new bugs whilst traveling in Japan, Europe, Mexico and the USA. We left Dr. Amin’s office with a wealth of new information AND a specially formulated botanical remedy to give us relief from our own parasites. Brad has had issues with pinworms/threadworms on and off for many years and Bex more recently with Dientamoeba Fragilis.

Mr parasites himself, Dr.Omar Amin, with Bex and Brad at his home in Scottsdale Arizona.
Bex and Brad with Dr. Omar Amin (center) at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Symptoms of Parasite Infection

The most common indicators that you may have a parasite are: diarrhea, constipation, bloating, cramps, indigestion, mucus, fatigue, nausea, skin rash, dry cough, headaches, allergies, joint pain, memory loss, and brain fog.

But it hardly stops there. Other symptoms can include:

Abdominal pain, lethargy, excessively dry or itchy skin, itchy nose or anus, depression, chronic mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, waking a lot during the night, grinding teeth during sleep, inability to lose or gain weight, uncontrollable hunger OR loss of appetite, muscle pain or cramping, numbness of hands and/or feet, arthritis, fast heartbeat, bad breath, excessive body odor, anemia, hypoglycemia, sexual impotence, yeast and urinary tract infections, cysts and fibroids.

How do parasites cause illness and disease?

They take nutrients away from their host (you, in this case), and produce toxic waste called mycotoxins. Parasites can occur anywhere in your body – every organ, tissue and even in your blood – and they can cause symptoms that mimic other disorders. So you may have been treated by your doctor for many different problems over your lifetime, but because they were never diagnosed as being parasite related, the parasitic infection may continue to affect your health in various ways.

How do we get parasites?

Parasites are all around and can enter your body through food, water (drinking/touching), insects, air, pets, people and soil. There’s no use worrying excessively about trying to avoid them, but there are lots of simple sanitary precautions and lifestyle habits that will minimise your risk of contracting a parasite, such as washing your hands and vegetables, drinking filtered water, chewing your food well, avoiding antibiotics, taking care of your digestive system, and not biting your nails or kissing your pets. In general, the stronger your immune system is to prevent parasites creating a home within your system, the better the chance you have of preventing them from getting too comfortable within your internal environment.

How do you know if you have a parasite?

If you are suffering from some of the symptoms above, take this Parasite Questionnaire. If your score is 15 or higher, parasites may be affecting your health.

It would be wise to then contact PCI directly or an integrative doctor or naturopath for further consultation and possible lab testing. The ‘Full GI Panel’ is the number one test Dr. Omar Amin offers.

One thing to be aware of with parasite testing is that results can often be inaccurate. You may get an incorrect negative result, as many types of parasites are not detected by common stool tests, and parasites are cyclical so may not show up every time. Or you may get an incorrect positive result as undigested food particles can look like certain parasites, as you can see in these parasite test photos at the bottom of the page. For this reason, it’s best to test with experts in parasitology, such as PCI. Or if your symptoms have been chronic for a long time, then consider starting parasite treatment even if your test results are negative. As Brad has learned from Paul Chek, there are over 1000 parasites that can affect the human body. Common stool tests may only test for 9-12 of the most common ones.

How do you treat a parasite infection?

The million dollar question. Even when people finally discover that a parasite is the cause of their problems, figuring out how to safely and effectively treat the infection can be an even bigger challenge.

Antibiotics
Parasites are often treated with antibiotics, but these drugs are harsh on your system, weaken your body, and kill off the beneficial bacteria in your system which helps keep the parasites at bay in the first place. So the parasite may go away for awhile after antibiotics, but re-infection is common. A vicious cycle, really.

Bex experienced this personally when she took antibiotics to treat her Dientamoeba Fragilis. Her parasite seemed to go away, and symptoms were temporarily relieved, but have now returned. We also learned from Dr. Amin that D. Fragilis is a type of parasite that ‘sits on the line’, so often only an immune compromised person will show a positive result. So maybe her parasite never actually left.

Dietary changes
Following a primal diet of real whole foods is definitely key in preventing and treating parasite infections. However, once the infection is deep and long-lasting (usually when the symptoms get worse/obvious), most people find dietary changes alone can’t treat the parasite problem. You can be assured, however, that if you take a medical or botanical remedy but don’t also change your diet and lifestyle, parasite reinfection is very common.

Natural Remedies
For years, we have tried using many natural anti-parasitic substances as part of level 3 and 4 of our Primal Cleanse. These include oregano oil, wormwood, detox teas, Naturopathic Tinctures, Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and Diatomaceous Earth. Other known remedies are black walnut hulls, cloves, pumpkin seed oil, garlic, neem, thyme, and marshmallow root. However, knowing how to use these properly, in what combination and proper dosages is really just a guessing game for people like us. And we’ve heard that many of the expensive commercial formulas in the shops don’t work very well. Dr. Amin also warns, “The body understands and wants consistency. When you try too many things all the time, it confuses your body.”

This is what we are currently taking for our parasite infections

Needless to say, we were really excited to meet a holistic-minded parasitologist who has worked hard to create completely natural and plant-based formulas which are helping thousands of people all over the world get relief from their parasite infections. We decided to take Dr. Amin’s formulas, called Freedom, Cleanse, Restore, for 3 months. At the time of writing, we’ve been taking it for 2 months.

Freedom, Cleanse, Restore parasite protocol.
Freedom, Cleanse, Restore parasite protocol.

As mentioned, we’d just returned from traveling the world for 7 months. We could certainly recognise the return of our previous parasitic symptoms, so we are looking forward to seeing how this remedy works for us. If Dr. Amin’s credentials and the testimonials are anything to go by, we think we’ve found a winner.

Note: We do not receive any commissions for mentioning this remedy, and are not qualified to prescribe anything to you. We simply believe in natural health solutions and are happy to recommend good ones when we find them!

Dr. Amin told us that this treatment is designed to work for all known species of parasites, including single-celled organisms, worm parasites, fungus and pathogenic bacteria. However, he greatly advises parasite testing to be sure that your symptoms are parasite related and also to see what type and how chronic the infection is, to regulate dosage and length of treatment.

He recommended no less than 3 months of taking the remedy, which may seem long to you and so many of us who are used to quick fixes. But the body is complex, and slow and steady often wins the race, especially when it comes to healing.

When you might have to keep your parasites

Dr. Amin corrects us when we say ‘eradication’, as there is no such thing. Only homeostasis, or balance. If we can keep parasites at low levels (and our system strong), they don’t cause problems.

You see, our bodies are designed to live in balance with low levels of foreign bacteria, which we accumulate from our environment after birth. It is only when this relationship becomes ‘imbalanced’ – that is beneficial for one but detrimental to the other – that it becomes parasitic.

In some instances, however, Dr. Amin warns that fungus and parasites can actually be beneficial to your body and should not be treated yet. The example he gives us is of Candida, which can be very harmful to the body. However, candida protects against heavy metal poisoning by metabolising the heavy metal and carrying it out of the body. So people with heavy metal poisoning would actually benefit from having candida!

It gets worse before it gets better

As often occurs in healing, once you start a remedy, you may feel worse at first. As your parasites die off and your body slowly flushes them out, you may experience more severe symptoms such as sharp intestinal pains or cramps, fatigue and grogginess, nausea, swelling, and foul smelling gas. Be assured that this is only temporary and is actually a good sign – it means that the remedy is working! Relief is on the way :). Brad has had this happen several times during our Primal Seasonal Cleanses, resulting in large amounts amounts of inflammation and swelling around the lymph node areas, and even the face.

Whatever you do, don’t discontinue the remedy as soon as you start feeling better. The danger is that there is still a residual population of parasites which can mutate into drug-resistant strains which are extremely hard to treat.

Paul Chek’s ‘Healing Fungal and Parasite Infections’

If you want to know more, save yourself thousands of dollars in course fees that Brad has spent learning about this stuff from CHEK Institute courses, and go straight to Paul Chek’s DVD series to give you all you need to know about Parasites. Well worth the investment.

Have you had a parasite and have some pertinent information to share with the Primal Health community?

Sources:
http://www.parasitetesting.com/
https://www.humaworm.com
http://www.undergroundhealth.com/eliminating-intestinal-parasites/
http://www.chekinstitute.com/Advanced_Training_Programs/HLC.php

Bex and Brad – Parasites 101 – 2015

Luxury or Community: Which Do You Really Need?

Luxury or Community - Which Do You Really Need?

Luxury, of course, right? We’d be so healthy and rejuvenated if only we had more money, comforts, alone time, and maybe some pampering. That’s definitely what I used to think…

Don't forget the important ingredients of Community and Love
Answer: Community (& Love!)

I have listened enviously to friends tell me about their retreats at health centres. They stayed in luxurious accommodations where all their needs were taken care of while they focused on their chosen wellness program. They were served gourmet meals cooked by qualified chefs, and treated to healing treatments by beauty and wellness therapists. They came back from these retreats feeling so pampered and relaxed. But experiencing it for myself always seemed out of my reach due to the very high prices for accommodation and food, plus any extra costs for treatments.

So I had to pinch myself this morning when I woke up early to the sounds of roosters and chirping birds to join a morning meditation before my green breakfast smoothie and yoga on the roof, overlooking a lush tropical beach village in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. I am nearing the end of my own week ‘away’ at a wellness retreat, and what an amazing week it has been. But it didn’t cost me much at all, and instead of luxury and pampering, I was treated to something even more valuable…a community.

When I found the website for The Sanctuary, the ‘healing haven’ looked like a wonderful place to relax, detox and get away on my own for a while. The prices were so low, that I thought there must be a catch. Ah yes, Guests have to work or contribute their time one hour per day, Seva Guests work 2-3 hours per day, and Volunteers work even more, serving as longer term staff.

I can hear you say, “Work time at a health retreat? Didn’t you go there to get away from work?”

However, isn’t a wonderful concept? The guests working together lowers the costs of running the place, so that lower rates can be offered for accommodation, food, treatments, and activities. This way, a health retreat is accessible to people of all budgets, as it should be.

Contributing to a community boosts your health!
Contributing to a community boosts your health!

And as I found out, this concept offers something even deeper and more valuable than getting a good price on a holiday.

After morning yoga on the palapa (roof veranda), we have our work time for an hour or two. Today, Barbara does some gardening, grinds some spices, and sews a ripped cushion cover. Eva waters the pot plants and sweeps the verandas. Tony puts away the clean dishes, feeds the cat, and fills up the water filter. I get to work making some signs for the bedrooms and bathrooms.

On the surface, we may seem like unlikely companions, varying widely in our ages, belief systems, experiences and personalities. But working together like this gives us a community feel that filters into the rest of the our day. It creates deep conversations, friendships, support-systems and connections that help us heal and grow.

Under the guidance and generosity of our host, Pete, we are learning to heal ourselves and others. Instead of having professionals take care of us, we are learning how to do our own detoxification rituals, meditations, and emotional healing techniques. We are learning much more about healthy cooking, supplements and food than if we never went into the garden or kitchen. This way, our physical and emotional health continues to improve even after we leave the retreat.

On Sunday when our young local cook Jose takes the day off, we all make lunch together in the kitchen, sharing ideas and expertise, and experimenting with flavours – all the while enjoying each other’s company and putting lots of love into each dish. When it’s done, we feel very proud of our meal, and the contributions we’ve made to our temporary home.

It doesn't take long to form tight bonds in a community setting
It doesn’t take long to form tight bonds in a community setting

You see, here we are working together. We are contributing our various talents and ideas, feeling useful and needed, being a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are learning that whether we are in our 20’s or 60’s, whether we live a life of struggle or privilege, whether we are in good or poor health, we are all people with the same needs of love, cooperation and community.

This large Mexican style home called The Sanctuary is a place for relaxing, centering, and healing, yet there are no qualified ‘healers’ here, no gourmet cooks, no luxurious suites or professional body treatments. But what I realised this week is that sometimes the best treatment for our minds and bodies comes not in getting, but in giving and sharing with others.

See a video of me at The Sanctuary Healing Haven!

Do you feel rejuvenated and healthier from some community activity or group? Please comment and inspire us with your experiences!

Contradictions of The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Contradictions of the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Smoking, drinking, late nights, no breakfast and tons of bread! We were shocked by some of the Greek diet and lifestyle habits which strongly contradict their traditional healthy Mediterranean diet. Are we wrong in what we think are healthy choices? Or are we forgetting the most important key to good health?

 

 

 

 

Contradictions of the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Smoking, coffee & other favourite Greek pastimes

As I explain in What We Can Learn From The Mediterranean Diet, the Greeks have a beautiful real food traditional diet. However, when it comes to toxins and poor health habits, the Greeks have their fair share.

Smoking up a storm

We have never, ever, been in a country where people smoke so much (and we’ve traveled a lot!). The Greeks love their cigarettes and smoke anywhere and everywhere, with little consideration for other people or any health risks. A couple Greeks we met said they quit smoking years ago and now they suck candies instead, but no one ever talked about smoking as a problem, or talked about trying to or wanting to quit. Yet they are known for their longevity. Hmmm…

Raki, Ouzo and Wine…for good health

Drinking is also never frowned upon. On the contrary, alcohol is thought of as healthful. When you toast, or cheers, you say “yamas”, which translates as “to your health”. Greeks are very proud of their strong local spirits raki and ouzo, which are served at the end of every meal and called a ‘digestive’. And with all those grapevines growing madly, they have beautiful wines, which taste great with all their food. A book we found even shows the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid as including alcohol.

However, maybe this mindset about alcohol is what keeps it healthy, because it’s only ever consumed in great moderation. There is no social rebellion in drinking alcohol, so binge drinking and alcoholism is highly uncommon. Men sit in cafes sipping the same tiny shot of raki for hours, wine is served by the ½ liter for a few people to share over a meal, and beer is rarely drunk at all. And the rebellious youth? They drink coffee…

Raki alcohol is a post-meal 'digestive' in Greece
Raki alcohol and dessert is served free as a post-meal ‘digestive’ in Greece

Caffeine all night long

Coffee is clearly the favourite national drink, and the social drink of choice for everyone from young Greeks in trendy city bars to old men in the village square. Frappes are the favourite – a combination of Nescafe and plenty of sugar whipped or blended until frothy. Though the old men may sit and sip the same coffee all afternoon, the younger generations seem to drink a huge amount, and well into the late hours of the night, since they go to bed so late.

Late dinner, no breakfast

In The Mediterranean, our primal pattern of sleeping and waking in rhythm with the sun is completely disregarded. Instead the Mediterranean sleeping and eating schedule goes like this:

7-10 am – Wake up and eat nothing except maybe a sesame bread ring
2-6 pm – Light lunch and a 2-3 hour nap
9-10 pm – Large dinner
1-2 am – Go to sleep

Instead of a nutritious breakfast, healthy lunch and light dinner, the Greeks are eating nothing until mid-afternoon, then eating their main meal after 9 o’clock at night! And aren’t they missing hours of restorative sleep by going to bed so late? Even the little children are out late with their families, eating at 9-10 pm and playing in the village square while their parents chat all evening. They still have to get up for school in the morning too…

The beloved bread

If the Greeks do grab a tiny breakfast, it’s usually koulouri on the run, a bread ring covered in sesame seeds sold at vendors on the streets. At lunch and dinner, giant loaves of sliced bread are served before or with every meal, to be dipped into a plate of fresh olive oil and maybe some dried oregano. Even if you order something that comes with bread already, like the popular gyro pitas, there will be a basket of bread on your table.

Bread is on the bottom of that Mediterranean food pyramid, along with rice and pasta, as the primary food group, just like on the USDA food pyramid. Though flour is not in everything, like in some cuisines, bread is always on the table and in the home, and many traditional foods incorporate filo dough and pita bread.

Traditional Greeks take pride in having fresh bread, and it’s still often home-baked or bought fresh-baked from the bakery. And bakeries are absolutely everywhere, chock-full of breads, pastries, cookies, mini ice creams, chocolates and candies.

It is true that the Mediterranean societies have always been agricultural, and that grains, especially wheat, are an integral part of not only their cuisine, but their culture. So maybe their metabolic type is suited to eating so much bread? We do know many Europeans who eat bread and cheese all their life, but it’s only when they move to Australia or America that they easily gain weight from eating these things. So maybe it’s a matter of traditionally made breads versus commercially processed versions.

Sugary coffee and cigarettes are favourite Greek pastimes
Greek shopkeepers pass the time with sugary coffee and cigarettes all day

So how do the Greeks stay healthy?

Despite all these factors, the Greeks remain on all the long life-span lists and are known to be in general good health.

Maybe these contradictions are a sign of modern commerce crowding out traditional ways, or maybe the Greeks and other Mediterranean peoples have just found a balance in diet and lifestyle that works for them. Some of these habits may well be moderated by their stable traditional food culture. Or maybe we are simply wrong in our own assumptions about what is a healthy lifestyle, and the Greeks have it all figured out. 

The Greek mindset is a healthy one

It’s probably most likely that the Greeks have simply found a balance in their Primal 6 – Thoughts, Air, Water, Food, Movement, Sleep. And since Thoughts are the most important, how about we look to the Greeks as a model for healthy Thoughts, as much as we do with their Mediterranean diet.

The Greeks prize family and community. They work, rest, play and eat with their large families, friends and community. They leave work for several hours in the afternoon to eat and nap with their loved ones, then meet up with the whole community again in the village square for dinner, playing and talking all evening. Meals are usually long, social or intimate affairs. They take care of the elderly in their family, including them in home and social life. Their Greek Orthodox Church brings a sense of community to the people, without obligation or guilt. And there’s no guilt, stress, or remorse felt about eating, smoking, drinking and indulging…only enjoyment.

Thoughts are more important than diet and lifestyle

It’s these thought principles that create contentment and a healthy, happy mind, which in turn keeps the body strong and vital. In many young societies like America and Australia, we are so focused on diet that we fail to see how unhealthy our modern thought principles are making us.

Almost every story I have read about a person who has lived beyond 100 years old without serious illness or disease reports that they are surrounded by friends and family and have regular social plans and gatherings. Many of them have paid little attention to their diet and exercise, and even regularly smoked and drank alcohol. There is definitely a pattern showing the power of Thoughts, and our month in Greece has reminded us of this most important aspect of our health.

Are the Japanese the Healthiest People in the World?

Are the Japanese the Healthiest People in the World?

According to the WHO stats, the Japanese are some of the longest living people in the world. But a long life doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy one. Personally, we would rather add life to our years than years to our life, so we like to study healthy people and copy what they do. Here’s what we found when we lived in and visited Japan and analysed their diet and lifestyle…

Are the Japanese the Healthiest People in the World

Is the Japanese diet really that healthy?

Seafood and processed food

Most people attribute the long average lifespan of the Japanese to a mostly primal diet rich in seafood. While it is true that the Japanese do eat a good amount of seafood, including various types of nutrient-rich seaweeds, these days their traditional foods are very processed and often replaced with modern commercial western foods.

Breakfast gone bad

We have only lived in the Tokyo area, and I would assume the big cities suffer more from this food commercialisation than the rural villages and countryside towns. However, in the Tokyo area, Japanese people often eat a breakfast not unlike the SAD (Standard American Diet) breakfast: boxed cereals, processed milk, bakery goods, or just coffee and toast. There are bakeries absolutely everywhere, offering sugary processed alternatives to the traditional Japanese breakfast of rice, fermented soybeans, fish and vegetables for many city-dwelling Japanese.

Dessert

In addition to fancy cakes, crepes, profiteroles and other European sweets, there are plenty of traditional Japanese desserts, mostly made from rice and beans, which makes them seem much healthier, even though they are sweetened with sugar. When not homemade, however, they are laden with the usual preservatives, additives, and processed sugars and syrups.

Traditional Japanese food is processed and packaged all over Tokyo
We thought there were healthy food selections at 7-11, like this spinach and pork, until we translated the long ingredient list on the back of the package.

Traditional foods all wrapped in plastic

The same goes with pre-packaged bento boxes, sushi rolls, rice balls, and even salads. At a glance, they are traditional healthy goodness. Fish, seaweed, rice, radish, ginger, fermented veggies and the like. And yes, if Japanese meals are home-cooked with traditional ingredients, they are surely the staples of long-living, healthy people. But in bustling Tokyo and its sprawling suburbs, these traditional meals are packaged up with long ingredient lists that include stabilisers, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours, MSG, and various sugars. I talk about this in my article about eating gluten-free in Japan, as many traditionally gluten-free Japanese foods are now full of processed wheat. As in many other societies, traditions are not being passed onto the new generations, who only know a world of ready-made food.

Organic food in Japan

Driving or taking a train through rural Japan, you can see plot after plot of home-grown and community-grown fruits and vegetables. I have no doubt this is a key factor in Japanese longevity. These days, however, a great number of Japanese buy most of their food from the supermarket, where the produce comes from heavily chemical sprayed farms and the meat is mostly factory farmed. There is also tons of imported food in the shops – American pork, bananas from the Philippines, Aussie beef, Vietnamese farmed fish – which our Japanese friends say is because it’s just so much cheaper to import.

Trying to find local or organic produce in a Japanese supermarket
One Tokyo suburb supermarket had a section showing pictures and locations of the farmers who grew the food. But no information on chemical use.

Our few health-conscious Japanese friends have sourced organic or spray-free produce, through a weekly farm box delivery, but properly raised meat is hard to find and very expensive, so they just don’t eat too much of it. There doesn’t seem to be many places to buy organically grown/raised plant and animal food in Tokyo, though the magazine for the English-speaking community lists 4 weekly farmers markets, touting either organic, farm fresh or just local.

One friend is very vigilant not to buy fish caught anywhere near Fukushima, for fear of radiation levels from the nuclear plant. Other people, however, say they heard on the news that people over 20 years old are not affected by radiation, so they don’t think about it. Hmm…

Finding certified organic food in a Japanese supermarket
The symbol at the bottom is one of the logos for Japanese certified organic food

My lifestyle determines my death style

Ok, that line is a bit dramatic, but it’s a favourite from a Metallica song and has a great ring of truth to it. For the Japanese, just as with the contradiction between their traditional and modern diet, there is a great gap between the traditional lifestyle which clearly promotes longevity, and the modern lifestyle which leads to rampant disease and untimely death.

How the Japanese live so long

The traditional lifestyle, still followed by millions of rural Japanese, is one of organic farming, affirming spiritual beliefs, and strong family ties. The elderly are cared for by their families, and continue to proudly work in their gardens and fields despite their age. With a traditional, unprocessed Japanese diet, you have a winning combination for a long, healthy life.

And why so many die young

Modern times, however, has brought great economic and social pressures. The Japanese are very proud people, who would rather die than feel as if they have disgraced their company with poor performance or let their family down with less than the best success. Consequently, Japanese mothers feel it their duty to push their children hard into academic excellence. From a very young age, study hours are long, tutors are many and pressure is high.

Once in the workforce, businessmen are slaves to their company, if only shackled by pride and obligation. After long work hours and uncompensated overtime, workers are expected to socialise with colleagues over drinks long into the night. After a long train ride home, and a short sleep, they do it all over again, usually 6 days a week.

Japanese people sleep everywhere, probably due to overwork and stress.
Japanese people sleep everywhere throughout the day, probably due to overwork and stress.

This lifestyle doesn’t allow much time at all for sleep, self-nurturing, exercise, or for family bonds to develop. Many times the pressure, fatigue and loneliness are so great, it leads to suicide. There is even a Japanese term that translates as “death from overwork”.

Learning from a land of contradictions

It’s all these contradictions that make Japan so interesting and mysterious. The crossing over of ancient tradition and high technology, quiet rituals and chaotic cities, primal vs. modern diet and lifestyles.

It’s really never enough to look at a list of the longest living peoples and make assumptions, as each country and culture is so complex, and true health is gained from a combination of factors which are never clear cut. However, by looking at the various cultures of the world – their traditions, daily habits and contradictions – we can begin to learn what may be best for our own health.

 

Do you think the Japanese diet and lifestyle are good models of health of longevity? Why?

 

 

Test Your Thyroid at Home

Blood tests are notorious for missing all but the most extreme cases of thyroid dysfunction. Most thyroid issues go undetected for decades because they are low level issues that don’t show up on conventional medical tests, even though they are causing major imbalances in the body. If you’ve had this happen, you can now take your health into your own hands and test your thyroid at home!

Test Your Thyroid at Home

This article is our Primal Health notes from part of The Thyroid Sessions interview with Dr. Dan Kalish. Learn more about Dr. Kalish and The Thyroid Sessions at the bottom of the article.

3 main triggers for thyroid problems:

Inflammation – Can result from dietary issues, lifestyle choices and stress. Inflammation signals the body to make more cortisol, and results in a block of the thyroid hormones.

Toxins – Such as heavy metals, mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium. Every American adult has between 400-700 toxins in their body right now. We are saturated with toxins from our modern environment. These toxins are endocrine disruptors: once they get into your tissues, they mess up the way your hormones operate. Impossible to avoid completely, but can be minimized.

Stress – External stress: job deadlines, financial pressure, relationship challenges, parenting, aging family members AND internal stress: not living the life we want, not satisfied, unfulfilled, not at peace with ourselves. Another main trigger of cortisol release. When cortisol levels go up, thyroid hormones drop. The more stressed you are, the more of a thyroid problem you will have.

But my thyroid test came back normal!

People come in to their doctor with symptoms that point to the thyroid, so the doctor orders the blood test, but when the results come out ‘normal’, the thyroid is thought to be healthy and fine, and the doctor and patient continue wondering what could be the problem.

Scientist and conventional doctor, Dr. Brodo Barnes, published an article in the Journal of American Medical Association in the 1940’s about these undiagnosed thyroid conditions.  For many years, he studied thyroid issues and successfully treated many patients with thyroid problems. He treated them for adrenal insufficiency, which means he knew that there was direct correlation between high cortisol levels (which exhausts the adrenal glands) and thyroid problems. Eventually, he developed a more thorough thyroid test that could be done at home and would pick up all thyroid problems, whether minor or severe.

So if your doctor has run a blood test and your thyroid levels have come up as normal, try this home test.

The Thyroid Home Test

When your thyroid is weak and underactive, you will feel tired, be putting on weight, have dull hair and skin, feel cold all the time…this is all because your metabolism has been slowed, which will also decrease your body temperature. So a consistently low body temperature can correlate with a sluggish thyroid.

You will need:

– Old-fashioned basal mercury thermometer
– Supplements. See next section for details.
– Chart to record daily results. Make your own – something like this:

Part of example thyroid home test chart
Part of example thyroid home test chart by Kalish Wellness

What to do:

A/ Do steps #1-3 below for 5 days (noting the different timing for women still menstruating). Make sure that you take your temperature BEFORE getting out of bed, before checking your phone messages or anything. While the thermometer is under your armpit, do nothing but lay there for 10 whole minutes. Don’t read, use your phone, talk or anything.

If your armpit temperature (only use the armpit) is in the normal range stated in #5, your thyroid is ok, and you can stop testing. If your temperature is below the normal range, continue to part B. If you do not see a clear trend in your temperature yet, try another 5 days until a trend of low or normal temperature becomes clear.

If your temperature is higher than the normal range, HYPERthyroidism may be a possibility, or you may have an infection.

Thyroid home test instructions from Kalish Wellness
Thyroid home test instructions from Kalish Wellness

B/ If your temperature is below the normal range for the first 5 days, continue testing for 21 more days while also taking these supplements recommended by Dr. Kalish (they can be ordered online), or other thyroid supplements/medication.

Thytrophin PMG made by Standard Process. Dosage is 6 pills at breakfast, or 3 at breakfast and 3 at lunch.
OR
Thyroid Synergy by Designs for Health (better for vegans as not animal based). Dosage is 4 tablets, 2 at breakfast, 2 at lunch.

The supplements reduce inflammation, lower cortisol, stabilise blood sugar and provide nutritional support to the thyroid. Therefore, as it says above in #5, if your temperature is low at first but rises while taking the supplements, you may have a weak thyroid.

Two ways of treating the thyroid

1/ The only conventional medical solution is medication, which is usually recommended to be taken for life. This is because if the inflammation, toxins and stress are not being kept under control, the thyroid problem will remain and continue to need the medication. So this is like putting a bandaid on the thyroid, without actually addressing the cause of the thyroid problem or fixing it.

2/ In the alternative medicine world, there are many other solutions. There are natural remedies, and there are also general treatments to greatly minimize the inflammation, toxins and stress, so you never have to directly treat the thyroid, just the cause of the thyroid imbalance.

As discussed above, a main trigger for thyroid dysfunction is stress and the biggest emotional stressors for most people are emotional. The top 10 emotional stressors in the human life span relate to grief or loss such as divorce, loss of a loved one, death of a spouse, marital separation, retirement, loss of a job. Often these emotional stressors lead to physical illness within a couple years.

Therefore, effective thyroid treatment can be through emotional and spiritual healing, which contributes greatly to the body’s ability to stay strong and heal. For example, in Eastern Medicine, the area of the body where the thyroid gland is, relates to the human emotional need of communication. So looking at communication issues in one’s life can give much insight into contributing causes of the thyroid malfunction.

How to heal your thyroid holistically

For more guidance on how to heal your thyroid through emotional and spiritual wellness, diet and lifestyle choices, and alternative therapies, get yourself The Thyroid Sessions. We can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone struggling with thyroid problems.

Sean from Underground Wellness has compiled all 24 of his “Thyroid Sessions” into a user-friendly digital collection of thyroid-healing information that will put YOU in charge of your health.

You get LIFETIME streaming and downloadable access to:

* 11 high quality on-camera video sessions of Sean getting all the thyroid info. from the experts
* 11 Google Hangout expert interview sessions
* 2 cooking videos with Recipe Guide for thyroid healing foods
* easy-to-download mp3 audio files for each interview session, so you can listen while you commute or do the dishes
* 600-plus pages of transcripts, if you prefer to read all this good stuff
* 10 incredible bonus items

Get The Thyroid Sessions HERE (affiliate link helps Primal Health keep running and keeping you get healthy) 🙂

This article is our Primal Health notes from part of one of these amazing thyroid sessions interviews, where Sean interviews Dr. Dan Kalish. Dr. Kalish gives even more awesome detail about the thyroid home testing and emotional healing in his video interview (more than I could possibly type up here for you!), which is included in The Thyroid Sessions.

Dr. Dan Kalish   Dr. Dan Kalish, DC

– Founder of “The Kalish Method”
– Teaches medical doctors Functional Medicine

6 Things To DO Before Bed, For a Good Night’s Sleep

6 Things to DO Before Bed...for a Good Night's Sleep

If you don’t think that going to bed late, sleeping lightly or waking up in the night is affecting you, here’s your wake-up call (pun intended). Regular poor quality sleep WILL slowly ruin your health. We’ve showed you 6 things to AVOID before bed, now here are 6 things to DO before bed, if you are tired of being tired, having broken sleeps and suffering with other sleep or energy problems.

6 Things to Do Before Bed for a Good Night's Sleep

1/ Turn off the wireless, power points and mobile signal

The frequencies from man-made electro-magnetic devices can interfere with our natural frequencies and bodily rhythms, including our circadian rhythms, aka sleep cycle.

There is much debate in the scientific community about how much electro-magnetic frequencies (EMFs) and electric fields affect us. However, there are several international studies which suggest that they pose a significant threat to our health, and tons of anecdotal evidence of people feeling the negative effects of EMFs. This should not be ignored. If you want to research this topic more on your own, start with the non-profit organisations Power Watch and H.e.s.e. Project.

In the meantime, instead of waiting decades to see what the long-term effects really are on us, how about just limiting your exposure whenever possible? Especially at a time when it doesn’t inconvenience you, like when you are sleeping.

We have had several clients report an immediate improvement in their sleep or their child’s sleep when they removed electric items from their bedroom, pulled the plug at night, turned off their wireless modem before bed, turned off the mobile phone signals at night, and/or re-routed any electric cords that were running under or around their bed.

2/ Take a shower

Several sleep research organisations suggest cold showers for insomniacs, while other research and testimony swears by the sleep-inducing effects of warm showers. Either way, it seems a shower will relax you and help regulate your body temperature for sleep. So what have you got to loose? Just your poor sleep habits.

3/ Have Sex (alone or with your partner)

We already know that men have no problem falling asleep quickly after orgasm, but did you know that sex or masturbation ensures deeper, more restful sleep for both sexes?

Sex boosts the production of sleep and relaxation hormones such as oxytocin, prolactin and estrogen, and decreases the production of cortisol – the hormone that prevents relaxation and sleep. So now you have another good reason to have sex or masturbate. Your Primal Health coach has prescribed it to you!

If your sex drive is low, you better read this!

4/ Write your thoughts

Even if you are laying in bed exhausted, if your mind is still active, it will keep your body awake. And it’s usually when you finally stop and do nothing, that all the good ideas come to your head and you remember all the things that you want to say and need to do. Therefore, by writing your thoughts at bedtime, you benefit twice: you get tons of great ideas and organised plans, and once you get all that clutter out of your head, your mind and body can finally get a restful sleep.

I recommend laying in bed for a few minutes with your eyes closed to let all the ideas and mind chatter flow. Then using a dim light, write down as much as you need, whether as lists, notes or in journal form. Then enjoy your blissful sleep.

5/ Eat, swallow, rub or spray Magnesium

Research has shown that magnesium deficiency and chronic insomnia go hand in hand, and even marginal deficiency can prevent the brain from settling down at night. On the other hand, a high magnesium diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. This was proven in a study done by James Penland at the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota, and is constantly backed up by numerous testimonials of people who have finally gotten the rest they need after taking magnesium supplements before bed.

Of course, you can get magnesium from real foods, and that is the optimal scenario. Good sources include green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. However, many of us have compromised digestive systems which lead to mineral deficiencies even with a nutritious diet. Therefore, a good quality magnesium supplement may be needed to greatly boost intake and sleep health.

One of the most absorbable forms of magnesium is magnesium citrate powder. Other good chelated forms of magnesium are ascorbate, orotate, glycinate, or ideally a mix of them. Some sensitive people get diarrhea from higher doses of the citrate form, so listen to your body. Additionally, if you have long-standing digestive issues, you may not absorb oral supplements so well, and instead can look at magnesium creams or sprays. Many good health food/supplement shops have naturopaths in-store which can assist you.

*Note that a balanced ratio of calcium and magnesium is important to overall health, and these two minerals should be taken together for best results.

6/ Breathing exercises and/or meditation

You might be getting tired of me talking about meditation and breathing. But when you find something that is so easy to do, costs nothing, and is so beneficial to your health, you want to spread the word! These practices, even when done for as little as 5-10 minutes, can have an extremely relaxing effect on your bodily systems and prepare you for the best sleep ever.

You can sit up straight or lie in bed, dim the lights or turn them off, use a guided audio meditation or just take some deep breaths feeling your belly expanding and your body relaxing. It doesn’t matter so much HOW you do it, just that you DO it. Regularly.

You can let Brad’s soothing voice guide you in his Meditation Made Simple video, try any of our 10 Easy Ways to Meditation, or simply lie in bed doing alternate nostril breathing.

How to do Alternate Nostril Breathing for Relaxation, Concentration and Sleep

 

Other sleep articles by Primal Health:
6 Things to Avoid Before Bed, For a Good Night’s Sleep
Are Your Daily Habits Affecting Your Sleep Quality? Take the Quiz.
How My Body Swelled Up From Sleep Stress

 

Which of these or other pre-sleep rituals have helped you get a better night’s sleep?

6 Things to Avoid Before Bed, For a Good Night’s Sleep

6 Things To Avoid Before Bed, For a Good Night's Sleep

If you feel energetic at night, take ages to fall asleep, wake up in the middle of night, or wake up feeling tired, your sleep habits need help asap. Start by avoiding these 6 common things that you may not realize are affecting your sleep quality. Though some of these things are healthy for you, they are best avoided in the hours leading up to bedtime.

6 Things To Avoid Before Bed, For a Good Night's Sleep

1/ Vigorous exercise

You body naturally releases catabolic (break-down) hormones in the morning to enable you to stay alert and work hard. So the first half of the day is best for exercising. These hormones slowly decrease after midday and are replaced by anabolic (build-up) hormones which enable you to rest and repair while you sleep.

If you exercise vigorously in the late afternoon or evening, your hormonal system will be disrupted so that even when you are sleeping, your body’s system’s are not resting and repairing – which is the whole point of sleep! Make an effort to change your exercise schedule so you are not doing a hard workout late in the day.

Sex is an exception to this rule, as the hormones that are released from sexual activity can actually aid sleep. Woohoo!

 

2/ Stressful TV shows and movies

Your mind has such a powerful influence on your body that even if you are laying down motionless, your body will respond to stressful situations – even TV plots – by releasing those catabolic hormones again. TV shows and movies full of violence, murder, arguments and suspense can get your pulse racing, even when you don’t feel emotionally affected by it. And then once again, your body is in stress mode while you’re sleeping!

Though it’s best to turn off the TV well before bedtime, if you’re going to watch something in the evening, keep it comic or light. This is also why it’s best to ‘never go to bed mad’. Calmly resolving stressful fights before going to bed will make all the difference in your sleep.

 

3/ Food that is hard for you to digest

Normally, digestion processes are greatly slowed during sleep so your body can put it’s efforts toward growing and repairing other areas of the body. To ensure this growing and repairing (the point of sleep) takes place each night, avoid eating any foods before bed that require great digestive effort.

Sugar and junk food should be an obvious no-no before bed, but there are also many primal foods that can require lots of digestive work. This usually includes meats, and for some people may also include raw vegetables, nuts, grains, and dairy. Better choices are light soups, low-sugar fruits like berries, and avocado. If you have regular digestive problems, it’s best to avoid eating anything for 1-2 hours before bed.

 

4/ Cacao

Speaking of eating before bed, if you’ve been indulging in paleo and primal style desserts, you’ve probably discovered cacao. We surely enjoy raw cacao chocolate bars from time to time, and got addicted to raw cacao avocado mousse as an evening snack. However, cacao contains a compound called Theobromine, which is a strong stimulant and was used by the Spanish to keep their armies going while conquering Central and South America. Therefore, it will also keep you up at night, or keep your body’s system’s up at night when you think they are sleeping with you. Best to avoid cacao several hours before bed, or for the second half of the day if your sleep needs serious help.

 

5/ Caffeine – it’s not just in coffee

And while we’re talking about stimulants, be aware that even if you’ve wisened up to not having coffee late in the day, there are also caffeine and other natural stimulants in black tea, jasmine tea, chai tea, and green tea. Avoid any of these drinks several hours before bed. Good naturally caffeine-free alternatives are herbal teas (like peppermint, ginger, chamomile, etc.), dandelion root tea (which resembles coffee) and Rooibos tea.

Having said that, if you’re prone to waking up in the middle of the night to go pee, it’s best to not drink any liquids for at least 3 hours before bed!

 

6/ Computers & Mobile Phone

The blue light emitted from your computer and phone screen is also present in morning light. So when you are staring at those screens before bed, your body thinks it’s morning and starts releasing wake up hormones, which also suppresses the release of sleep hormones like melatonin.

You may have heard this one a lot lately, but it’s a hard habit to break in our internet addicted world, so even we need to constantly remind ourselves and each other to turn off the screens before bed.

Set yourself an electronic curfew alarm two hours before your bedtime, and plan for other activities instead. If you make it a rule to avoid electronics before bed, you will have more time for reading, meditating, a relaxing stress session, or having sex – all which will encourage sleep.

 

Apply these rules to your kids too

If you are struggling to get your child to go to sleep and not wake up at night, look at some of these same six factors. Are they watching dramatic shows, playing violent video games, or using a computer at night? Are they having stressful arguments with you about dinner and bedtime? Are you trying to ‘tire them out’ with lots of physical activity at night? Which is in fact just stimulating them more? Are they going to bed right after a huge meal? Are they having any stimulant drinks at night?

Focus on avoiding these 6 things in the hours before bedtime, and you may be amazed at how well you and your family sleep!

Other sleep articles by Primal Health:
Are Your Daily Habits Affecting Your Sleep Quality? Take the Quiz.
How My Body Swelled Up From Sleep Stress

 

Have you had problems getting quality sleep? What have you tried to improve your sleep?

Do You Have a Leaky Gut? Knowing Could Save Your Health!

Do You Have Leaky Gut?

The term ‘leaky gut’ sounds disgusting and weird, yet more people are learning what it is because so many of us have it! It’s highly possible you do, too. I’ve been living pretty primal for about 7 years, and I’ve discovered I have a very leaky gut which is now starting to cause serious problems. Here’s what I’ve learned that you should know.

Do you have leaky gut?

What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky Gut is the short name for Gastrointestinal Mucosal Hyperpermeability, or Intestinal Permeability. Permeable means things can pass through, and in this case, we’re referring to things passing through the lining of your small intestine.

This lining has mucosal cells that cover the entire length of the small intestine (gastrointestinal tract). Normally these cells are very tightly ‘knit’ together, forming a sort of screen which nothing can pass through. With a leaky gut, microscopic gaps form between these cells, so that some large molecules can pass or ‘leak’ through the gut lining into the blood stream. Hence the name, leaky gut. Imagine a window screen with small holes in it where bugs can now enter through…

How does a Leaky Gut slowly ruin your health?

These large molecules that are now able to leak through the gut into the blood stream are things like partially digested food particles, bacteria, yeasts, and toxins. Yikes.

When these foreign things enter your blood stream, your body signals that there are invaders in the blood stream and starts fighting! Your liver starts working overtime to filter all the toxins and your immune system starts works tirelessly to quickly eliminate the invaders from the body. However, it’s often too much for them to fight against, and the invaders end up absorbing into different tissues, leading to inflammation throughout the body.

That inflammation leads to more immune response! Soon the immune system is too busy constantly fighting the invaders and responding to inflammation to do its usual jobs. Over time, the body ends up attacking its own tissues, leading to all sorts of autoimmune diseases such as chronic fatigue, chron’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, irritable bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, hashimoto’s disease and more.

Thanks to progressive doctors and health practitioners, we know now that our leaky guts are at the root of so many of our illnesses and disease, both physical AND mental. This includes autoimmune disorders, digestive disorders and mental disorders.

Food intolerances caused by a leaky gut

Another very common consequence of a leaky gut is numerous food intolerances. When partially digested food particles are able to leak through the lining of the small intestine into the blood stream, the body sees those foods as invaders, since they are somewhere in the body where they are not supposed to be. To fight the invaders, the body produces little fighting soldiers called antibodies to fight against those food particles.

The more you eat those foods, the more antibodies your body produces, and the more your immune system reacts when you eat those foods. This is why you may have eaten nuts, milk, wheat, eggs or other foods for many years with no problem, but then you suddenly start to have terrible symptoms when you eat them. Your body has become intolerant of those foods, and responds with diarrhea, rashes, fatigue, brain fog, muscle aches, or something else.

Leaky Gut Illustration from Delicious Obsessions.com
Found on Delicious Obsessions.com

What causes Leaky Gut?

The causes of leaky gut are numerous and often debated by experts, but commonly include:

Poor Diet – Regular consumption of refined sugars, flours and other processed foods leads to inflammation and dysbiosis (imbalance of good vs. bad gut bacteria) which leads to leaky gut.

Medications – Prescription drugs, birth control pills, and even over-the-counter pain medications such as tylenol, aspirin and panadol all cause irritation of the intestinal lining. Antibiotics are a huge offender as they kill bad bacteria, but also good bacteria, leading to dysbiosis (imbalance of good vs. bad gut bacteria) which leads to leaky gut.

Chronic Stress – When stress is constant, the immune system gets overworked and cannot keep the digestive system healthy and free from inflammation, which leads to leaky gut.

Yeast – When yeast grows out of control due to a poor diet, medications, stress, etc. it forms fungus (such as candida) that cling to the intestinal lining and create holes, causing leaks in the gut!

Inflammation – Anything that causes inflammation in the gut can cause it to become leaky. Common causes of gut inflammation include environmental toxins, yeast overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, infections and parasites.

Do you have Leaky Gut?

First, look at the causes above and ask yourself if those things have been a part of your life. Second, here are some common symptoms of leaky gut. How many do you have?

Chronic diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel – These are very common signs of an inflamed gut lining.

Skin rashes – Rashes, including eczema, are the result of your body trying to get rid of excess toxins through your skin.

Nutritional deficiencies – This is from your intestine’s inability to properly breakdown and absorb nutrients from food.

Food sensitivities/intolerances – As I said above, your system develops antibodies to food particles leaking through your gut, creating multiple food intolerances.

Regular sickness/infections – When your immune system is depressed and too busy fighting inflammation, it can’t do its usual job of fending off viruses and bacterias that cause common colds, flu and infections.

Sugar and carb cravings – These cravings are often caused by dysbiosis (bacteria imbalance), parasites and yeast overgrowth.

Headaches, brain fog and/or extreme fatigue – All the result of tissue inflammation and excess toxins.

Also – regular bloating, gas, anxiety, memory loss, depression, stubborn belly fat

Are you looking at all those causes and/or symptoms and nodding your head, getting concerned that indeed you think you do have leaky gut?

Well, I’m a bit excited for you! Because you are reading this, you may now know the cause of your ill health.

You may now be able to take control of your health and not only gradually eliminate your current symptoms, but prevent future autoimmune disorders, physical dysfunction, and debilitating disease!

What to do if you think you have Leaky Gut

Some of you may be motivated enough to start looking into healing your gut now on your own, using the internet and books as resources. But most of you will need confirmation of your leaky gut and some professional guidance, and I recommend this as the better way to go for complete recovery of your gut health.

Find the right health professional

I highly suggest finding a functional medicine/integrative medicine doctor, and/or a naturopath who has experience in healing gut disorders. The Mindd Foundation is a good place to start, as well as The Institute for Functional Medicine, or simply use google. Read some bios, make some phone calls, and choose a practitioner who knows all about guts and how to heal them.

Even though a gastrointestinal doctor may seem like the person to see, those doctors generally only specialise in diagnosing disease, but not healing it. They also don’t use functional diagnostic tests, which is what we need to discuss next…

Get tested

Although you may have enough symptoms for you and your chosen doctor to assume you have leaky gut, it may be beneficial for you to do an intestinal permeability test. This will confirm your leaky gut in your mind, and also tell you how bad the damage is. Ask your doctor for the test referral or kit.

The test is done at home. You drink a special sugar substance mixed in water in the morning, then collect your urine for the next 6 hours (in a very big bag!), and send in a small sample of the urine. If you have a leaky gut, the sugar substance you drank will show up in your urine in varying levels, depending on how leaky your gut is.

The next test that is extremely beneficial is a faecal microbial analysis, which is a fancy way to say they can analyse the bacterial content of your poo. This will tell exactly which bacterias and/or yeasts are overgrown or undergrown in your gut, so you know which is the best course of action for getting your bacteria back in balance. Otherwise, you could be taking probiotics for years and not getting any better because it’s the wrong bacteria! This is also a home test, which simply requires one stool sample.

These tests are not cheap, but in comparison to all the money you will save on trying to recover from illness and disease down the track, they are very good value in my opinion.

Leaky Gut Causes and Cures
Leaky Gut Causes and Cures
Pic found on completewellbeingsolutions.com

You can heal your Leaky Gut

I’ve been through all this myself, and am happy to say I am on the path to recovery. It’s a bit of a long path, but I realise that if it took this long to cause the damage, it’s going to take some patience to undo it. I’m looking for long-term results anyway, not a quick fix, as I want to be healthy in the long-term.

You, too, can heal your gut! It takes some dedication and commitment to your health and care of your body, but anyone can do it. Especially with some professional guidance and a positive attitude.

Here’s how I’m healing my leaky gut

If you’ve been unwell for a long time, or are tired of suffering from symptoms and can’t seem to find the underlying cause, it may be that you have a leaky gut. Just like me, you didn’t know the damage that you were doing to your body, and there’s no point in having regrets. The beauty is that now you can take all of your new knowledge of primal living and heal yourself! And we are here to support you all the way.

 

References:

Leaky Gut Syndrome in Plain English by SCD Lifestyle
Leaky Gut Syndrome by Nourish-ed

 

Do you think you have leaky gut? Is anything stopping you from taking the next steps toward healing your body?

Before & After a Detox or Cleanse: What You Need to Do

Before & After a Detox: What You Need To Do

I know I’m not the only one who has binged on alcohol or junk food right before starting a clean-eating program, cleanse or detox. You feel you have to enjoy it now while you can, so might as well spend the weekend binge-eating and partying it up before your cleanse starts on Monday, right?

What you need to do before and after a detox or cleanse

The problem is, you’re setting yourself up for a much harder detox with severe or sudden withdrawal symptoms. You will wake up on Monday unprepared mentally, physically and logistically for a cleanse which is supposed to be rejuvenating for your body and mind, not stressful.

Furthermore,  after eliminating accumulated toxicity from your mind and body during the cleanse, it’s likely you’ll feel different emotionally and physically, so you’ll need to take some measures to slowly ease yourself out of a cleanse.

Whether you are simply eliminating one thing from your diet for awhile, doing a 21 day sugar detox, quitting coffee, doing a juice fast, or a primal seasonal cleanse, here’s what you need to do before and after your detox.

Preparing your body for a cleanse

Slowly decrease your intake of the foods/drinks you will eliminate during the cleanse

Example: Coffee – The killer headaches that come from caffeine withdrawal are enough to put you off ever doing a cleanse again. However, if you slowly decrease your caffeine intake in the days leading up to your cleanse, your headaches will be greatly reduced than if you went from drinking 5 coffees a day to suddenly none. Instead, have one less cup of coffee each day for several days leading up to the cleanse.

Example: Sugar – Sugar is more addictive than cocaine, so it’s rarely something that you can quit cold turkey without withdrawal symptoms such as severe irritability, intense cravings and illness. Slowly decrease the amount of sugary food you eat in the few days to a week leading up to the cleanse.

Eat light and healthy the day before your cleanse starts and get a good night’s sleep

This will get your digestive system ready for the detox, your taste buds ready for nourishing foods, and your body feeling calm and relaxed about making changes.

Preparing your mind for a cleanse

Make a list or chart detailing your plans for the cleanse

List the foods and drinks you want to avoid and another list of the ones you want to introduce. Include any lifestyle changes you plan to make, such as daily meditation, yoga, saunas, colonics, earlier bed time, etc. Put this list up somewhere where you will see it every day, such as on your bedroom mirror, refrigerator or above your work desk.

Make a list of your goals for your cleanse or detox
Make a list of your goals for your cleanse or detox

Think and talk positively about your upcoming cleanse

In the week leading up to your cleanse, get excited for it. Look forward to the break you are giving yourself. When you talk about the cleanse to yourself and others, use a positive attitude and positive language. Focus less on what you are eliminating (sugar, alcohol), and more on what you are adding (healthy food, relaxation). By the time the cleanse starts, you will be in a good mindset for all the positive changes.

Preparing your home  and lifestyle for a cleanse

Stock your kitchen with goodness and throw out the crap

Fill your fridge and pantry with the healthy foods that you want to eat plenty of during your cleanse, and throw out any foods that you won’t be eating during your cleanse. It’s really not worth keeping that box of chocolates for after the cleanse, as they will only tempt you to no end! Throw it all out, or give it away.

Give yourself time before the cleanse starts to buy any supplements, detox teas, oils or herbs you want to use.

Clear the clutter and create coziness

If the cleanse makes you feel irritable, tired, unwell or emotional, the last thing you will want to do is tidy or clean. So clear general clutter and make any simple adjustments at home that will create a cozy, comfortable environment where you will feel like chilling out and nourishing yourself during the cleanse. A cluttered house = a cluttered mind.

Clear your hectic schedule

Again, you may feel worse before you feel better, as your body adjusts to the changes and eliminates toxins. So schedule into your cleanse plenty of down-time and home time for you to rest and rejuvenate. This is not a good time for work deadlines or projects needing great mental focus. This is not a time for grueling workouts, late nights or demanding social engagements. Give yourself a break from your hectic life, and your body and mind will not only better cope with the cleanse, but reap much greater benefits.

Coming out of a cleanse

Schedule yourself enough down-time to reflect

If possible, don’t rush straight back to anything that will cause you stress. It’s common at the end of a cleanse to feel different emotionally, as you’ve cleared out toxins that have weighed down your body and mind. So give yourself enough time and space to process these feelings.

Ease yourself back into any intense physical exercise

If you were already doing some sort of strenuous or aerobic movement before the cleanse, take your time getting back into it. For example, start at low weights and add more each day after the cleanse. Or start with very short periods of aerobic activity and increase your time by 10-15 minutes each day after the cleanse.

Start regular movement if you weren’t doing it before

Regular exercise or movement will help you continue to control your cravings, de-stress your body, and expel those toxins effectively, well after the cleanse is over. Find what type of movement you will do regularly and plan to start it right as your cleanse finishes. Try walking, living room dancing, climbing the stairs to your office, or taking a class at the gym or fitness studio.

Evaluate how the cleanse went and what to change for next time

On the last night of the cleanse, or the day after, sit down and think about your cleanse.You might even want to write down some things like:

What was most challenging?
What was easier than you thought?
How did you feel, mentally and physically?
What did you learn about health and yourself?
What do you want to continue doing in your daily life?What would you like to do the same or differently in your next cleanse?

Remember that change takes time and practice

Ideally, you would continue to eat a healthy diet, live a less hectic life, and nourish your mind and body as much as possible. But don’t beat yourself up if you slip back into some bad habits after the cleanse is over. Change is best when it’s gradual, and doing a cleanse at least every season will help you to gradually make positive diet and lifestyle changes that will be part of your life forever.

 
Receive our FREE Seasonal Cleanse Manual each season simply by joining our tribe as a free member! It includes step-by-step instructions for each phase of the cleanse, allowable food lists, sample menus, symptoms to be aware of, and ways to vary the cleanse for beginner, intermediate and advanced cleansing.

 
Have you ever done a cleanse or detox?