THE SCIENCE BEHIND DAIRY
Yogurt, 20 Ways»
New Year's Resolution: Get More Culture!»
Tips for Beating the Holiday Bloat»
A Host's Guide to Holiday Entertaining for Digestively Diverse Guests»
Decoding the Yogurt Aisle»
Traceability - Why You Should Know Your Cows»
Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Yogurt is FODMAP-Friendly!»
Spring Cleansing? No Need to Ditch the Dairy!»
Who’s Got Lactose-free Yogurt on the Brain? You do!»
The Pros of Probiotics»
Tummy Troubles this Winter Season?»
There's a Yogurt for That!
Beyond Organic Dairy»
SPRING CLEANSING? NO NEED TO DITCH THE DAIRY!
By Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN (www.TamaraDuker.com)
“Detox diets” and Cleanses are more popular than ever, with high-profile celebs and fitness gurus touting all sorts of health benefits associated with their ascetic regimens. While the particulars of each plan vary, quite often they share common features in their emphasis on juicing and elimination of dairy, gluten, added sugars, and/or animal protein.
If I seem skeptical of these regimens, it’s because there’s no reliable science to support that any of these plans contribute to long-term health or weight maintenance, which is what I care about for my patients.
Don’t get me wrong: I totally understand the desire to kick-start a brand-new plan. But I’d so much rather steer my patients toward a new, cleaner way of eating for the long-term, rather than watching them spend a ton of money to starve themselves on short-term gimmicky diets that overpromise and under-deliver.
If the goal of a Cleanse is to rid your body of actual toxins, then I believe a scientifically-sound regimen would be two-fold. First, it would seek to eliminate actual toxins from the diet—like pesticide residues, endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic compounds—as well as artificial food additives and byproducts of industrial food production whose long-term, cumulative effects on human health remain unknown, like hormones, artificial colors and genetically-modified proteins. Second, my ideal regimen would emphasize foods that support the health and proper function of our body’s own natural detoxification systems—the lungs, liver, kidney and colon--so that they can expel true toxins as they were designed to. Unless you have Celiac Disease or a Milk Protein Allergy, gluten and dairy are not “toxins” as the “detoxeratti” would have us all believe.
So what are my guidelines for a Clean Eating program that promotes optimal health and weight management year-round? Read on:
- A high fruit and veggie intake is an essential part of a clean eating plan. Choosing organic whenever possible—and particularly for foods you eat most often-- will help reduce the pesticide load. Eating cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale often will help support liver function. All fruits and veggies contain beneficial antioxidants, which help support lung function, but in-season, locally-grown fruits and veggies are likely to have higher levels. Whole fruits and veggies are generally preferable to juices, since they contain the fiber your colon needs to help trap and eliminate toxic compounds from the body. A mix of both cooked and raw is ideal to balance vitamin content with digestibility.
- Drinking lots of fluids helps keep your kidneys in good working order as they flush away toxic metabolites from your blood, such as ammonia. Water and unsweetened green tea are my stand-bys.
- Your colon is an essential detox organ; it eliminates toxic compounds you ingest from food, thus preventing them from being absorbed into the body. Adequate dietary calcium is essential for colon health, and so is an active, thriving colony of friendly bacteria in the colon. For these important reasons, I wouldn’t necessarily eliminate calcium-rich dairy from a Cleanse—particularly in the form of probiotic-rich yogurts. But since so much dairy in this country contains growth hormones, I recommend organic dairy to keep it clean. Even better would be organic dairy from cows that have been grass fed (or “pastured”) – even for just part of the year. Grass-fed dairy contains a more favorable ratio of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats to pro-inflammatory omega 6 fats, as well as a compound called called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) that has been associated with reduced cancer risk. These are just a few of the reasons I buy Green Valley Organics Lactose Free yogurt, made with milk from a single, Certified Humane farm in California where cows graze on grass for most of the year. (www.GreenValleyLactoseFree.com)
- Choose whole, minimally-processed foods as much as possible. Read ingredient lists; the shorter, the better. The more recognizable the ingredients, the better. For example, a yogurt’s ingredient list should not be a mile long, and certainly shouldn’t contain industrial food additives like modified food starches, artificial colors or high-fructose corn syrup.
- Meat can be a healthy part of a clean eating plan. I recommend pastured/grass fed beef for its high CLA content—but suggest limiting intake to once per week. Pastured chicken is your best bet for poultry. To offset the higher cost of these meats, I suggest eating it less often and increasing your intake of plant-based proteins like lentils, beans, organic tofu or quinoa to compensate for the difference. To avoid eating cancer-causing compounds called HCAs that result from cooking meat at high-temperatures, I suggest minimizing intake of grilled (especially charred) meats. To avoid eating cancer-causing compounds called nitrites, I suggest avoiding “pink” processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs and sausages unless they are specifically labeled “nitrite-free.”
- Wild fish that are low on the food chain—like sardines, anchovies, herring and freshwater trout—are the best choices to minimize exposure to toxic heavy metals like mercury while reaping the benefits of their anti-inflammatory omega-3 content. If you eat salmon, choose wild Atlantic over farmed salmon to prevent exposure to antibiotics. I suggest avoiding imported shrimp from Asia, industrially farmed fish like tilapia, or large, older fish like tilefish, swordfish, grouper or orange roughy.
- To prevent contamination of your food with Bisphenol-A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor with questionable impact on human health and development, I suggest minimizing intake of canned foods unless the product label states that the can has a “BPA-free lining.” Also, avoid food or beverages in plastic containers labeled with a #3 or #7. Safe containers include Tetra-paks (like the paper cartons used for self-stable soups), and plastics labeled with #1, #2 and #5—including the #5 plastics that most yogurts are packaged in.