Time to Take Out the Trash

By Kimball Johnson MD   |  3Comments|

The saying “garbage in, garbage out” is familiar to us all. But what if you don’t get the garbage out? If you don’t remove your household garbage, you’ll build up piles of trash. Your house would remain standing, but it would quickly get cluttered and smelly, and eventually it would become unlivable—literally a sick house. Similarly, if you allow “garbage” to build up in your body, you will experience increasingly unpleasant consequences as time goes on.

When you eat, your body goes right to work breaking down the food you’ve ingested, detoxifying and digesting, using what it needs, storing what it thinks it may need later, and eliminating the rest. The more additives and chemicals are contained in our food, the more complex the whole process becomes for our bodies. Some chemicals are not well recognized by the body and thus are more difficult to process. A prime example of this would be trans fats. Eating trans fats is somewhat akin to eating a tire, in that trans fats can never really be broken down and utilized. As a result, trans fats get “tucked away” into fat and into plaque inside the arteries, ultimately causing atherosclerosis.

The solution to getting the garbage out of your body starts with an elimination diet. Take out the bad, put in the good, see the difference (the detox phase), and then slowly add back in one food at a time (the re-challenge phase). While the process works best over a two- to three-week period, it can be done in as little as seven to 10 days. If this sounds too tedious and time consuming, consider how often you eat and how many more meals you will have for the rest of your life. In that context, you’ll find that an elimination diet is a tiny slice of time to definitively figure out what does and does not work for you.

I won’t sugar-coat it (all puns intended): the hardest part of the process will be the detox “symptoms.” If your body is used to sugar and carbohydrates, processed foods and/or alcohol equivalents, you’re likely to feel much like an alcoholic coming off alcohol. You will feel negative effects. In fact, it’s common to feel worse than ever around day four in the process. This is not a sign of going in the wrong direction. In fact, it’s an indicator that you’re going in the right direction by expelling from the body the chemicals that are causing oxidation, inflammation, intolerances and allergic symptoms, all unbeknownst to you. If you persevere and push through, you’ll be rewarded by an amazing burst of energy and clarity around days seven to 10. (Note that if you have complex health issues, you may need a longer detox period along with medical supervision for this process.)

Doing a food detox is like taking out the garbage: Just as you would check every trash can in the house, you should be mindful of all the avenues and organs of elimination when you detox the body.

  • Brain: The mind, with all of its power, is your grounding and foundation for the detox process. A positive mindset can work wonders.
  • Lungs: Take deep breaths in and out, and get some exercise.
  • Skin: This is our largest organ and is critical to detox, as we sweat many toxins out. Sweat internally from exercise and externally from full-spectrum saunas, which are wonderful ways to speed up a detox and ignite the metabolism.
  • Liver: This is the detox factory! Putting good veggies and healthy foods in your system will free up glutathione, enzymes and their co-workers to help the liver do the job it was designed to do.
  • Kidneys: Keep hydrated, and eat alkaline foods, as acidic foods stress the kidneys. Veggies in general are more alkaline. Urinating throughout the day is ideal, even if it cramps your work day.
  • Colon: Keep things moving through your colon, and clean it out. Don’t be shy! You may need more fiber; more magnesium, which puts water into the gut; or a little help from slippery elm or chia seeds. It may be helpful to “go from below” with low-pressure colonics or enemas. For those of you open to more radical things, try rectal implants with organic, green, low-roasted coffee or wheatgrass.

After detox, you re-challenge. Food intolerances can be subtle yet cumulative. It may take 24 to 48 hours for any negative symptoms to be felt, so it’s crucial to add back different food types individually over three to four days, then pay attention and take note of your body’s signals. Once you learn and feel the difference, more simple eating is much easier to do; your body will not want to go back and you won’t have to “bare-knuckle” every meal to stay on track.

When you open yourself to enhancing your body’s ability to “take the garbage out,” you will also solve your personal food puzzle. The results will be tangible, and extend far beyond weight loss. There is a wonderful energy that comes when numerous and confusing food intolerances and cravings no longer control decisions, emotions and actions. I call it “getting your Mo-Jo back!”

Photo credit: daniel zimmel

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3 responses to Time to Take Out the Trash
  1. Yes! Great information and all so true. I’ve declared 2012 to be a Year Of Health (for myself, my family, my viewers on Veggie Kids) so this is perfect timing!

  2. this is what I needed to read today. thank you

  3. Hi Kimball:
    Happy New Year to you. I appreciated your post, found it quite inspiring. I can’t quite get motivated to make some significant changes, so this helps.