Tag: digestive enzymes
I’ve tried a number of cleanses—juice cleanse, fruit fast, and I think I may have once fooled around with one of those cayenne pepper cleanses—and let me tell you, not all are created equal! While the right cleanse may give your body a true break from digestion, allowing it to heal itself, a bad cleanse can poison your body from the inside out. Fortunately for you, I’ve tested a bunch of these out on my own body to give you the real scoop on how these programs affect our health. Hopefully you can learn from my experiences—and mistakes…
Juice Fasting (Blueprint, Organic Ave., homemade, etc.)
I know there are some people who swear by juice cleanses, but I am not one of them. While the idea of having vitamins and nutrients go straight into your bloodstream is nice, that also means there’s a ton of fruit sugar going straight to your blood stream, giving you a sugar high followed by a crash. In addition, there is little to no fiber in a juice fast. So even if you’re waking up toxins in your system, there’s no way to “cleanse” them out. Supposedly, these toxins instead resurface, making you feel even sicker than you were to begin with unless you take laxatives or colonics to force them out. When I went on a juice fast, I felt horrible after 3 days. I constantly felt nauseous and dizzy. Even once I decided to stop fasting, it took awhile for the nausea to go away. I don’t see how anyone could benefit from this fast, unless they want to spend a ton of money on colonics or OD on laxatives. No thanks.
I recently tried the 80-10-10 method, where 80% of your calories comes from fruits, 10% from leafy greens, and 10% from nuts and seeds. I learned about this diet off of a website called fullyraw, whose founder has been able to reverse her hypoglycemia by following the method. Clearly, the 80-10-10 method works for her, so I thought I should try it. While it was GREAT for cleansing (be ready to go to the bathroom frequently!) I was worried when I saw an old white vitiligo spot resurface on my hand—something that I haven’t seen since going wheat-free. I did some research and found some sources saying that the absorbic acid in certain fruits (oranges, pears, grapefruits, grapes, and even lemons) have been linked to decreased melanin production, so perhaps that could have been the cause–I was eating a ton of pears. But who knows, maybe other factors could have affected the depigmentation–stress, lack of sleep, etc. I might try it again another time, taking out pears and citrus fruits.
The Clean Program
This one is the winner. I am currently doing it for a second time since I love it so much—stay tuned for details! It’s a program developed by physician Alejandro Junger that progresses in three stages. The first stage, called the elimination diet, removes wheat, dairy, added sugar, red meat (which I believe is beneficial to do anyway) certain fruits such as bananas, grapes, grapefruits, oranges, and nightshade vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. The healthier eaters stay on the elimination diet for a couple of days, whereas others may need to stay on it for a week or more. The second stage is the actual cleanse, where breakfast and dinner is a liquid meal (either a smoothie or a soup) and lunch is a meal from the elimination diet. The official program comes with an expensive kit and packets, but the book says that you can benefit from the cleanse without the kit, which I am doing. This diet allows just enough fiber to keep things moving while also allowing your digestive system an ample break for detoxification. In addition, it is the only cleanse that I have found that advocates for a significant consumption of healthful fats, which I need not only to support my skin, but also for the omegas that keep me focused since I am sitting through lectures all day. The diet focuses on eliminating inflammatory foods so that the body can focus its energy on healing itself for three weeks.
I was amazed with my results the first time I finished the cleanse. Most surprising was its effect on my joints. A couple of years ago, I had a minor injury where I fell down a full flight of subway stairs, face first, on my elbows. (Yes, I know I’m a huge klutz!) My elbow was sprained, and ever since I’ve always needed to twist/crack it in the mornings so that it doesn’t feel sore. It’s nothing huge, but a bit annoying. By my final week of the cleanse, I noticed that I stopped needing to crack my elbow into place. Many claim that the program helps those who suffer from arthritis by reducing inflammation—it must have had the same affect on my elbow. In addition, I had more energy, slept better, and felt more focused.
I hope to experience even greater healing this time around—my goal this time around is to further heal the few vitiligo patches that I have left—and maybe even recruit some more cleanse buddies? Who’s with me?!?
“A Journey of a Thousand Mile Begins With the First Step” –Lao Tzu
I frequently get the question from friends, family members, and blog visitors—“Alana, I’m ready to get healthy. Tell me how to eat like you.” The truth is, I would never advise anyone to switch immediately from the typical American diet to my diet— a nearly raw, vegan, no refined sugar, and gluten-free lifestyle. Getting there takes time, and transitioning too abruptly can have serious side effects on your body. But what I can recommend is that you take five easy steps to getting there. Perhaps these steps will lead you to an even greater dietary change, or maybe this will define your new lifestyle. Either way, it’s all about what feels right for you. Here are the first steps I took when transitioning my diet.
Listen to Your Body
Everyone’s body is different. The only way you can know what you should be eating is by listening to yours. Eat your meals very slowly, chewing each piece with intention, that way you can notice how it makes you feel and you can truly recognize when you are full. When you are done, set a one-hour timer on your phone reminding yourself to assess how you feel once you have fully digested. Once the timer goes off, do a personal inventory of your body. Do you feel tired? Gassy? Bloated? Energized? You will be surprised at the things that make your body tick, and be more inclined to get rid of them once you are more aware.
Slowly Replace Processed Sugar
In my ideal world, processed sugar would be thrown into a pit to be used to make punching bags! Processed sugar has been proven to cause diabetes, candida, and a myriad of other health conditions. To make things worse, it has addictive qualities similar to those of tobacco. However, getting rid of processed sugar altogether–particularly given its addictive qualities–can be extremely difficult and lead to withdrawal (I experienced it myself when first transitioning). I recommend spending one day counting the amount of sugar you eat normally. Track it on the website myfitnesspal.com if that makes it easier. Then, try cutting that number in half, or even by a fourth if that’s too difficult. Stock up on stevia, which is a low glycemic natural sweetener made from the stevia leaf, and start using it as your go-to sweetener for teas, drinks, coffee, etc. Keep some in your bag in case of emergencies. Look for products in the grocery store that use coconut nectar, stevia, or dates as their base for sweetness instead.
Don’t Drink During Meals
While water is extremely important, you should be using your time in between meals to drink as much water as you can. During meals, you should minimize your water intake so as not to dilute the production of digestive enzymes. You want multiple enzymes to be produced while you are eating so that you can fully digest your food, feel full, and reap all of the nutritious benefits of your food. So keep the water intake to a sip or two during meals and save your big gulps for afterwards.
Monitor Your Meat Consumption
Several studies have proven the harmful effects of meat—acidity, heart disease, obesity, cancer—the list goes on. While I understand that a completely vegetarian diet is not feasible for everyone, I recommend taking at least one day a week to eat vegetarian. On that day, try a new vegetarian restaurant. Some great restaurants in the NYC area include Quintessence, Caravan of Dreams, Blossom, and Peacefood, among others.
Read and Research
When I first decided to change my diet, I became largely inspired by the writings of nutritionists who were able to teach me how to do it safely. These nutritionists taught me that a proper diet is not only a cure for weight-gain, but also for skin-diseases, aging,cancer, and fatigue. Check out Kimberly Snyder’s the Beauty Detox Solution and Alejandro Junger’s Clean Program. Also check out some blogs filled with recipes and transitioning tips, such as living maxwell, food babe, and kimberly snyder.
I hope this helps you on your journey towards getting your body on track!
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been coming to Puerto Rico to visit my family for years. Although the island is known for not being vegetarian-friendly, I’ve found ways to keep my diet–even when I’m surrounded by meat eaters! Here’s how I do it.
Keep Your Eyes Out for Health Food Stores
Surprisingly, there are tons of health food stores in Puerto Rico. If you’re staying in Dorado, I can recommend three that exist within a 10 mile radius, including Verde Natura, Essential Organics, and Armonia. They tend to be tucked away, however, so you need to keep your eyes peeled. My favorite health food store in Puerto Rico is Dora’s in Manati–although I know this is a bit far for most who visit and stay in San Juan. If you’re staying in San Juan, however, check out Superfoods in Condado or La Buena Mesa de Oscar in Rio Piedras, which also has a vegetarian cafe right next to it!
Stock up on These Puerto Rican Treats
Plantains: Sorry, I’m not talking about fried plantains or plantain chips (that’s not to say I didn’t have one during my trip…uh oh!) I’m talking about boiled plantains with no grease added. Plantains not only help with digestion, they also are high in calcium and have been proven to help improve brain functioning. Try blending some into Abuela’s plantain soup!
Avocados: Avocados in Puerto Rico are so delicious. They tend to be bigger and juicier than the avocados you find in the States. Not only that, you can find them anywhere. My aunt has a tree full of avocados that has been growing for years—talk about local! They’re also sold at about every fruit stand that you can find. This made eating very easy for me. Whenever my family planned to go to a place that I knew wasn’t vegetarian-friendly, I would always sneak in an avocado to add to a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. And with all the essential fatty acids, half an avocado was just enough to make me feel full and satisfied.
Cold Coconuts (Cocos Frios): It’s not rare in Puerto Rico to see a coconut stand while driving on the local roads. These are as fresh as they can get! Open one up and you’ll get a great dose of coconut water to keep you hydrated on a hot caribbean day.
Check out Places with Vegetarian Options
Casa Lola, Condado: Being that I have the most awesome family in the world, my cousin picked this place out with me in mind when he invited my family out to dinner. In addition to the normal Puerto Rican foods (fritters, pork, seafood, etc.) this restaurant offered some great salads and vegetarian options. I started my meal off with a salad and had a vegetarian platter with chard, asparagus, mushrooms, and vegetarian beans. Yum!
Café Berlin, Old San Juan: Although a little bit tofu-heavy for my taste, this little gem in Old San Juan has a full vegetarian menu with gluten-free options along with fish and meat options. I had the vegan “meatloaf” (made with rice, beans, and vegetables) and a house salad. Perfect for ending a night of strolling the cobble stone streets of the historic neighborhood.
There are so many places to get your sweat on in Puerto Rico. I definitely recommend taking classes atIt’s Yoga Puerto Rico in Condado. The studio is better than any New York studio I’ve been to and is just a walk away from the beach! You can also experience the beautiful scenery of the island either by running or hiking outside. On the days where I didn’t practice yoga, I would either hike or run in the nearby neighborhood, where I would frequently see reptiles, coquis, and beautiful greenery. Some great places to go hiking include el Yunque Rainforest and El Torro Negro State Forest.
I hope this helps you on your next trip to La Isla del Encanto!
Smelling the flowers at el Torro Negro. Such beautiful greenery!
2 cups of vegetable broth (my grandmother uses a broth cube—I would recommend using either a homemade vegetable broth or a store bought without preservatives)
1 slice of green pepper (optional)
1 dash of cilantrillo (optional)
2 plantains, mashed or grated
Boil the vegetable broth with pepper and cilantro , once it is boiled keep it on low heat
Take half a cup of the broth and blend it with 2-3 tablespoons of mashed plantains (depending on how thick you want your soup)
Add the plantain/broth mixture back into the remaining pot of broth, slowly stirring the broth on low heat for 10 minutes
Add salt and pepper to taste
What’s Great About this Soup
Although plantains in restaurants are usually greased and fried, plantains alone have many nutritional benefits. They are:
High in Potassium, which helps to keep us hydrated and energized
High in Tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce vitamin B6 and serotonin to regulate our moods.
High in Emulsin, an enzyme that helps with the digestion of carbohydrates.
High in Calcium, which helps prevent heart disease and osteoporosis
This is a great soup to have after a long, active day to refuel and re-energize. !Buen Provecho!