People are in shock when I tell them that a 100-calorie “healthy” food like green beans or oatmeal can cause a two-pound weight gain, hasten the aging process and exacerbate health issues. How does this happen? The simplest answer is inflammatory response and how these foods react with your body chemistry. But what exactly does that mean and how can you be so affected by a healthy food?
Many systems come into play with a reactive food and this causes the domino effect that we usually associate with getting older – think expanding waistline, declining energy or health. Get the full list of reactive foods.
Let’s start with some basics. Aging is a state of inflammation and systems start to slow down. In addition, as we age, digestive enzyme production slows down. We start to produce less stomach acid and saliva all of which aid digestion. The foods we used to be able to break down easily when we were younger become more difficult to digest. These foods have now become trigger foods and sensitivities and affect multiple systems that alter weight and health.
Declining thyroid function as another example of how aging and foods can affect weight/health. The thyroid is responsible for many functions including metabolism, sex drive, skin, hair and energy levels. Hormones become unbalanced as we age and this affects the thyroid. A standard “healthy” diet will include foods known as goitrogens and these foods attack the thyroid. Some examples of goitrogens are spinach, arugula, cauliflower and strawberries.
Food sensitivity is also an example of how weight and health are triggered by a reactive food. Histamine, an important part of our immune system, is automatically triggered when an inflammatory food is introduced. Histamine causes immediate water retention by causing capillaries to dilate and allowing them to leak fluid.
To control this histamine response, the body produces cortisol. Cortisol and hormones such as progesterone and testosterone use the same building blocks; the more cortisol that is released, the more your hormonal balance is negatively affected. The body is producing cortisol at the expense of progesterone and testosterone. These hormonal fluctuations disrupt water balance, metabolism, thyroid health, healthy sex drive and immune response. Elevated cortisol produces glucose which leads to increased blood sugar levels. This will start to affect yeast growth, altered gut flora, and could be a reason behind the incredible rise of type 2 diabetes in the US. Altered gut flora leads to a weakened immune response as the balance of our intestinal bacteria is thrown off. Remember that 60-70% of our immune system is in our guts!
Can all of this happen from just a cup of green beans? Absolutely! In addition, this inflammatory response can easily last 72 hours. So, just a few “healthy” foods a week can cause that scale to go up year after year no matter how many calories you count and how much you exercise!
The Plan Detox
How do you find your reactive foods? By doing a safe and food-based detox with the least reactive foods and then slowly reintroducing the foods YOU love. The Plan is a method that allows you to systematically test foods and know which foods work for your unique chemistry. You will discover which foods make you feel vital, healthy, full of energy and lean. The most amazing part of discovering your healthy foods is rediscovering the body’s amazing ability to self-heal and how rapidly you can lose weight.
According to the plan, the most reactive foods are the following, ironically considered to be some of the top health foods by most:
- Greek yogurt
- Black beans
The first three days of The Plan detox contains well over 7,000 calories for women and over 9,000 calories for men, and average weight loss is 5-8 lbs. How is that possible? You’ll quickly learn on The Plan that the calorie myth means nothing – all that matters is how easily your body can digest foods. The “cleaner” your foods are, the more food you can eat and the better you feel.
The steps to the three-day detox are very easy:
- First thing in the morning, drink 16 ounces of water with lemon.
- Have dandelion tea with breakfast. The tea and the lemon are wonderful natural liver cleansers and will aid metabolism and hormonal health.
- Take a probiotic each morning to restore digestive health.
It’s very important that you don’t deviate from the detox; the days are structured to have adequate nutrients, protein, fat and fiber to keep you full. In fact, the first day for women on The Plan has you consuming 70-plus grams of vegetarian protein and over 100% of your macronutrients and minerals.
The Plan allows the least reactive foods during the first three days. These foods are easily digestible and your body gets a respite from breaking down inflammatory foods. Energy is diverted from difficult digestion to repair. Systems that were first affected by reactive foods show immediate improvement – stress levels hormones, skin, and digestion all rapidly improve.
In the first few days after the cleanse, you can introduce foods that are lower reactive, such as cheese, steak, wheat and wine. Your body will quickly let you know in many ways whether these new foods work for you. Weight response to a new food is a gauge, but so are sleep, mood, stress levels and digestion to name just a few.
I have devised the cleanse to be as easy as possible, but there is the possibility that the release of toxins can cause some discomfort. It is better to deal with this now (really!) than later on when disease starts to crop up in a more serious form.
If you do start to feel a detox reaction such as a headache or nausea, double-strength peppermint tea will often make symptoms abate. If aspirin is part of your protocol, then please feel free to take one if you feel a headache coming on. Suffering will not help on many levels; there is no need to “tough it out.” Think of these three days as the most important investment – your path back to vibrant health and a healthy weight.