Detox: A Spring Cleaning for your System

Northwestern Medicine
Health and Wellness April 02, 2013
Have you ever stopped to think that what you take into your body could have the greatest impact on your emotions, thinking and aches and pains? Most of the disease in the body is caused by inflammation. Inflammation is the common denominator, whether you have plaque in your arteries, painful menses, PMS, irritable bowel, sinus problems, fatigue or painful joints. Surprisingly, since 80 percent of your serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter, is produced in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, your emotions are also affected by inflammation.

Inflammation from foods you eat translate into inflammation in your intestines, which then allow inflammation to spread throughout the rest of your body.  Sometimes when you get hurt, a band-aid is enough as it can keep out unwanted bacteria, and allow your finger to heal.  However, there are no band-aids for the GI tract. We try to patch up the problem with a “band-aid drug” when an individual has GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and it works for a while and possibly longer. But, there are long term effects from this drug that stops your stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid. Stomach acid is there for a purpose – to digest food so that you can absorb nutrients – and kill bugs that come in with your food.  A deeper cause of GERD can be connected with inflammation, from some of the  foods we drink and eat that cause inflammation. Many foods are related to inflammation, foods we don’t think of but take into our bodies every day.

Why not try an inflammatory and anti-inflammatory food challenge?  One arm of the challenge you already have completed – that of avoiding inflammatory foods: sugary or diet pop, the cheese, ice cream, pretzels, cookies, alcohol, and you know the rest. The other arm of the challenge, should you accept, is to eat foods that are healing, anti-inflammatory foods. Try this side of the challenge for three to four weeks – you judge the difference. You will be shocked as I and most of my patients have, that food really makes a difference in weight, thinking, emotions, body aches, pains and energy.  Taking the challenge is not easy, some people can go cold turkey and some need a little help.

If you’re looking for help and the support of a group, join me this month and in May, for the Northwestern Integrative Medicine Group Detox/Cleansing Program. Classes that meet four times for one and a half hours each.  During the class sessions, you will be given information to slowly go off inflammatory foods, one food at a time.  You will also receive recipes and anti-inflammatory food ideas, as well as individualized and group support for the week. After you are weaned off of these foods, the program continues with a gentle and individualized five-day detox program with medical food and protein shakes, detoxification drops and  teas – all you need to do a spring cleaning without harsh “detoxing powders.”

Bring your family, work peers and your friends! Classes begin on Wednesday, April 3.  For more information or to register, visit

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