Saturday, September 15, 2012

Food Facts For A Squeaky Clean Colon

Okay, I'll admit it:
I am a closet Van Halen fan! 
And, I will also admit that I just loved how cute Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli looked together, as a couple ...
And this week, when I heard that Eddie was clinging to life after swallowing a cayenne-based diet concoction, part of the Master Cleanse Diet, I was shocked.

Apparently, fad diets, like some cleansing diets, can increase stress and pressure on the colon to the point where the colon could rupture. In Eddie's case, he had a pre-existing condition, called diverticulitis, which is like having tiny little pockets in your colon. If food, like seeds or nuts, get caught in these tiny pockets, an infection could start. If the infection progresses, or if stress or pressure is put on an inflamed colon, the colon could rupture, spilling feces into your abdominal cavity. If this happens, you could die - which was pretty much what almost happened to Eddie Van Halen this past week.

So, what's the big idea behind these colon cleansers. Do we really need a little rotor rooter action? Do they help?

Detoxification and cleansing have been around for a long time. In fact, the first saunas were designed so humans could sweat out toxins from their skin. Still, never before has the idea of a colon cleanse been more promoted and accepted, than in the last decade. The theory behind cleansing is that in our modern-day, developed, chemical-ridden/dependant world, toxic compounds in our air, water and food pollute our bodies. Let's face it, this part is true, which is why I buy organic products and try to avoid pesticides in my food, hair and skin care products! If exposure to these toxins is greater than what our bodies can naturally neutralize, or detoxify, the toxins will build up in our bodies. Toxins that are not removed, either by being processed in our liver or kidneys and eliminated via sweat, urine and feces, will most likely get stored in our fat tissues - and possibly even other tissues, as well.
So, then, it makes sense, right?
We need to 'take control' and give our body some help. 
After all, how could anything that detoxifies your body be negative?

Well, not everyone agrees that a cleanse or detox diet is good thing. I'm sure Eddie Van Halen will vouch for that!
My Master Cleanse experience felt like I was running with the devil!
Supporters of detox diets believe that toxins don't leave our bodies, but hang around in our digestive, lymph and gastrointestinal systems - and even our skin. Proponents of cleansing diets believe that the toxins that linger in our system cause problems like headaches, tiredness, nausea and illness.
But ...
Detox diets are not all created equally. Most detox diets instruct dieters to eliminate certain foods that are thought to contain toxins in order to purify the body. Others may require fasting, and the dieter must give up certain foods - foods like processed and packaged foods or refined carbohydrates. For a runner, this would mean no power or protein bars, no protein shakes, sports drinks or gels or pasta.

Some detox diets concentrate on consumption of liquids, like juice, vegetable broths, teas and water. The thought here is that food stresses out the GI tract and by drinking juice, your giving your GI tract some rest. Then, over a period of time, the dieter can gradually introduces some foods back into the diet.
OMG! I didn't ever think I'd see the day when I could eat these again!
Some detox diets require the dieter to eliminate certain food items, like animal products or cooked foods, and yet others encourage using a colonic irrigation, or enema to "cleanse" the colon.
I'm talking, the REAL DEAL, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, here!
The bottom line is that because detox diets impart certain restrictions, they do not allow the dieter choice of food groups, so there is no balance of the food groups. 
Major Food Groups
I guess this is okay for those who believe in the power of the cleanse on an annual or biannual basis,
BUT ...
We can see from Eddie's experience that detox diets are not for everyone. 
They are especially NOT FOR those who have a pre-existing condition like diabetes, heart disease, or diverticulitis. They are also not recommended for pregnant women, or people with an eating disorder. With an eating disorder, some people may feel a sense of power in restricting caloric intake, or in "cleansing" via an enema - this could lead to abuse of this activity and result in serious health problems. Also, if the detox diet requires laxatives, a person could become dehydrated, lose important minerals and electrolytes or worse, become dependent on laxatives.
Above all, detox diets are especially not a good weight loss plan. 
Restricting calories during a detox effort may allow you to lose a few pounds, but it's mostly water and muscle. The more muscle you lose, the less metabolically active (calorie burning) tissue you have, and the more likely you are to regain the weight once you start increasing your caloric intake again.
So, then, why have detox diets, like the one created by Stanley Burroughs in 1941,
The Master Cleanse, 
made such a come back since 1990?
Simple: It's a Fad
And it could be a dangerous one!
The human body is designed to purify itself, but our bodies can also store and potentially not rid itself of toxins. A more efficient way to detox is by encouraging your body's natural ways to detox.
Start by limiting (note: not e-liminating) fast and packaged foods,
eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies (in every color of the rainbow), whole grains, legumes, nuts (walnuts for some great omega-3's) and seeds (pumpkin seeds are also full of omega-3's). 
Eating these foods will make for a fiber-packed diet, which is great because the fiber will help draw out wastes, as well as bile (which will also help to lower your cholesterol).
For the love of fiber, eat a balanced meal!
Also, make sure you are eating enough protein from lean meats, eggs or fish, and enough calcium for healthy bones. Of course none of this will be any good if you don't drink at least eight-8ounce glasses of some kind of beverage (other than alcohol) to rid the body of toxins via sweat, urine & feces.
Last, but certainly not least: 
Adopt a healthy lifestyle:
Exercise regularly and avoid XS-alcohol.
And ....
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