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Spring Cleanses, Avoiding Osteoporosis, and Protein Requirements

The following article appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Health Science Magazine

Question: Many of my friends are doing “spring cleanses.” What is the best cleanse?

Answer: Your body actually has its own intricate mechanisms to filter out and detoxify impurities, and it does this all day, every day. Given the proper conditions, your body can heal and cleanse itself of almost anything detrimental to your health. So, the best cleanse you can do is living healthfully. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and an appropriate amount of fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds. Get adequate sleep, sunshine, fresh air, exercise, and laughter. Build a loving social circle and ensure appropriate responses to stress. If you still feel like you need a cleanse or a break from the “Pleasure Trap” of modern life, you might consider a supervised water-only fast by an IAHP-certified physician. This type of fast, even though it's the most intense, appears to be the best way to cleanse and get back on track with a healthy lifestyle - in essence, to get your health momentum back. Until then, hold off on the cayenne pepper and lemon juice.

Question: Besides eating healthy, what is a good way to minimize my risk of osteoporosis?

Answer: Your body adapts to the demands imposed on it. If you exercise, your bones become stronger as an adaptation. To minimize risk, you should include weight bearing and resistance exercises to your routine. Weight-bearing exercises are when your body has to support your weight, such as walking, dancing, or climbing stairs. Resistance exercises are when you are resisting against the weight of another object, such as lifting weights, using elastic bands, or doing movements in water. Strive to do these different types of exercises two or three times per week. As always, talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Question: Where can I find reliable health information?

Answer: With all of the information we get from various media sources today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However, going to the internet for health questions is sometimes like going to a swap meet to buy an engagement ring. In theory, you might find what you need, but there‘s a lot to sift through, and it will take a while. To get high quality information, it’s best to go to a professional who specializes in what you need. Search out the leaders in the field of health promotion who have documented results and a consistent message. Health Science magazine does a brilliant job of putting that message in one publication. As with anything in health care, results will always vary by individual, so make sure to get individually tailored recommendations when appropriate.

Question: Where do I get my protein if I’m eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet?

Answer: Getting enough food has always been a concern throughout human history. Particularly today, though, with the reductionist approach to nutrition, getting enough protein seems to be a big concern to anyone seeking to improve their health. With that in mind, consider that as a percentage of calories even a potato, at 11% protein, falls within today’s most common recommendations: the World Health Organization (9%), the Recommended Dietary Allowance (10%), and the Institute of Medicine (10-35%). A simple search in the USDA’s National Nutrient Database also shows that a potato contains all of the essential amino acids needed. Spinach, as a percentage of calories, is about 50% protein and also contains all of the essential amino acids. Without naming every food in this article (although you can verify this by searching the database), know that every single whole food has some amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. This means that if you are consuming enough calories for your ideal weight and consuming a healthy variety of foods, you will get enough protein and essential amino acids in your diet.

Question: How do I maintain a healthy diet on the go?

Answer: One way to stay healthy on the go is to cook all of your food a day or two ahead of time and put it into meal-sized containers. That way you don‘t have to think about food on top of your busy schedule. If you are travelling, bring a few essentials with you, such as a can opener, a can or two of beans, a few baked potatoes, a spoon, and a small bowl. Stop by a grocery store and pick up some raw veggies if you’re able, and you have yourself a healthy meal. If you don‘t have time to stop at the grocery store, you‘ll still have the filling and flavorful beans and potatoes. These simple techniques can help keep you from eating too much junk until you get back to familiar territory.

Question: What do I tell my friends and family when they start talking about different diets and my diet comes up?

Answer: It can be difficult to watch your loved ones suffer needlessly with lifestyle-related diseases. However, due to the vast amount of misinformation out there about diet and disease, adding more information — even if it is true—can be overwhelming to your friends and family. The last thing you want to do with close friends and family is to unintentionally argue and bicker over the superiority of each other’s diets. Consider the following response: “My diet? Well, it‘s the best diet in the world. Everyone should be on this diet. Even Caldwell Esselstyn, the famous surgeon at the Cleveland clinic, and Bill Clinton‘s doctor Dean Ornish say that this is the best diet. How about you? What‘s your diet?” While someone saying this may be doing well on their diet, making statements like these can put others on the defensive. An alternate approach is using Dr. Doug Lisle‘s “seems” strategy, which would go as follows: “My diet? Well, it seems to be working for me. It‘s not right for everyone, but my doctor says it seems to be a good fit for me.” In this way, you are preventing needless arguments, and you are speaking about your own experience while simultaneously putting friends and family at ease. After all, your diet is about you, your health, and your own personal journey.

(For more information about Dr. Lisle‘s “seems” strategy, see the book The Pleasure Trap as well as his DVD Getting Along Without Going Along.)

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