A traditional fast is not for the faint hearted. For those of us who are looking for an easier option, the low reactive diet is a good alternative. The following is an example of a low reactive diet. Simply eat these foods on the suggested days. Of course you can also follow the detox shopping list and design your own low reactive diet.
Initial elimination phase
Eliminate wheat, milk, dairy, egg, gluten, salicylates, colourings and shellfish. Foods high in salicylates need to be avoided in certain allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema, hay fever and autoimmune disease. A full list of salicylate containing foods can be found at www.carahealth.ie. The following is a list of low reactive foods to take to the supermarket in preparation for your detox programme.
Alternatives to common problem foods
Soy milk is the most common alternative. People who are sensitive to the protein in cows’ milk may also have difficulty with the high protein content in soy milk. Soy milk can also be high in fat. Some are too high in oil and sugars. There are also rice milk, oat milk, sheeps’ milk or goats’ milk. Here is a recipe for nut milk. Take one handful of almonds, sunflower, pumpkin sesame or flax and blend until a powder. Gradually add about 500ml water until it is a consistency of milk
Soft cheeses are easier to digest than hard cheese. Try fetta, ricotta or cottage cheese. Most feta in the supermarket is cows milk, some is goats, you must check the ingredients. Other alternatives are goats and sheep's’ milk cheeses and tofu. Tahina may be considered a good substitute and is also high in calcium if unhulled. Try avocado, tomato and tahina on toast under the grill. Lets face it though, there is no real substitute for grilled cheese
Wheat and gluten
Wheat, rye, barley and oats contain gluten. Certain people have a deficiency of glutase, the enzyme to digest gluten. Millet is good substitute as not only is it gluten free but it is also alkalising. Rice is a perfect low reactive food. Instead of a wheat base try this. Mix cooled cooked rice with eggs and press into a base for low fat quiches. Be sure to blind bake first. Polenta is corn meal, although, a true exclusion diet includes the elimination of corn. Use polenta as a base for pies or quiches. Cook as instructed then add some olive oil and press into a pie tin.
Others good gluten free alternatives are lentils, quinoa, soy flour, (beware of genetically modified and soy protein isolates) potato flour, chickpeas, (chickpea flour or besan flour is traditionally used for chapatis) buckwheat, (note that buckwheat pancakes are a mix of wheat and buckwheat flour as buckwheat on its own is too heavy) and tapioca and sago can be used although they are not particularly nutritional.
Breads and Pasta
Rice crackers, corn crackers and gluten free breads are suitable. Rice noodles are a good past substitute that are cheap from the Asian grocer. Others include corn noodles and buckwheat noodles (though some contain wheat) and gnocchi (check ingredients) Thickeners Soft Tofu from the Asian grocer can be shredded into food. Tahini will thicken soups. Seaweeds are also a great thickener. In Ireland we have carrageen to thicken stews and soups. We can use shredded nori or wakame from the Asian grocer. Real corn flour made from corn is good. Did you know most corn flours are made from wheat? Arrowroot powder is another wheat free product to thicken stews and gravies. Kudzu root powder is the latest healthy wheat free alternative thickener. It just happens to have the highest phytoestrogen content also and is brilliant for menopausal women.
Alternatives include agave syrup, xylitol (made from bircg trees) and erythritol (made from berries and fungus), real honey, rice syrup, barley malt, molasses, apple/pear juice concentrate and dates, figs and prunes.
Low Reactive Diet
The elimination phase
Eat only sweet potato, pears and lamb. Vegetarians substitute cooked dried beans or red lentils
Eat only white rice, pawpaw and organic chicken or turkey.
Eat only millet or white rice, peeled red delicious apples (low in salicylates) and whiting or bream.
Eat only brown rice, lamb, buckwheat and pear juice. Day 5-14
Sweet potato, broccoli, carrot, beetroot, spinach, onion, cauliflower, pumpkin and asparagus. All vegetables should be washed and peeled unless organic. Salt, garlic, parsley and cold pressed oils can be used to flavour on all days of the low reactive diet. Restrict the following to half a cup. Green beans, red cabbage, brussel sprouts, mung bean sprouts, green peas, leeks, shallots and chives.
Lemon juice and olive oil or flax seed oil with thyme, basil or oregano, crushed garlic and good salt. (good salt is moist and grey) Try the health food shop. Use this to flavour your salads, vegetables and grains.
Drink only pure spring water or filtered water. The Carahealth Gravity Fed Water Filter www.carahealth.ie is recommended. Plastics water bottles contain bispenol A a hormone mimicker, and should be avoided. Reverse osmosis is dead water with no nutritional benefit. Recommended herbal teas include Carahealth YEP tea, which contains yarrow, elder and peppermint, to promotes sweating and detox, or Carahealth PARTEA a blend of liquorice root, chamomile flowers, rose petals, lemongrass, calendula flowers which not only assists detoxification but is good to clam any “liverish” disposition.
Start reintroducing suspect foods on day 14. Reintroduce one food at a time while maintaining the low reactive diet. Keep a symptom diary. Monitor symptoms in any body system. Symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, pain, diarrhoea, constipation, eczema, asthma etc. Use Vitamin C powder or bicarbonates of soda to buffer the symptoms if they are bad. Test wheat, dairy and salicylates first. Below are instructions on testing foods. If you react to a food, halt the reintroduction of that food and return to the diet prior to reintroduction of that food until symptoms completely disappear. Retest this food, if you still experience symptoms, you may need to completely avoid this food or seriously restrict it as you now understand your body has a problem with it.
Have 2-3 glasses of milk daily for up to three days. If symptoms appear stop. Test soft cheeses first then test hard cheeses.
Wheat and grains
Test bread with a yeast free, whole wheat bread like pitta bread. Salicylates Have three glasses of orange or tomato juice. For further advice on salicylates see a naturopath.
Eat some shellfish and watch out for symptoms. Of course if you know you have a violent reaction to anything don’t keep testing it!
Detox shopping list
Apples, apricots, bananas, blueberries, cherries, figs, grapes, kiwi fruit, loganberries, mulberries, mango, nectarines, pawpaw, peach, pear, prunes, kumquat, lemons.
Asparagus, artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok-choi and other Asian greens, bamboo shoots, cauliflower, red, green and yellow peppers, cabbage, chives, celery, dandelion leaves, green beans, kohlrabi, onions, sweet potato, mange touts, spinach, okra, endive, watercress, kale, leeks, parsley, courgette, sea vegetables i.e. nori, hajiki.
Brown rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, wild rice, amaranth, quinoa, millet, polenta/corn meal.
Tofu, chickpeas and lentils. Proteins Fresh ocean fish, free range chicken and turkey and lamb.
Herbs and spices
Aniseed bay leaves, basil, cardamom, cayenne, celery, cinnamon, cumin, dry mustard, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sea salt, tarragon, thyme, turmeric and others.
Flax seed, sesame, olive and canola or hemp. All oils should be cold pressed virgin oils. Nuts and seeds Choose sesame, sunflower pumpkin seeds, raw almonds and cashew nuts.
Traditional Fasting / Calorie Restriction
Fasting is the voluntary abstinence of all food and drink. Lasting from 12 hours – 90 days, usually due to religious or therapeutic reasons. I am only suggesting a short fast, even Jesus only managed 40 days.
Aim of therapeutic fast
- Provides physiological rest for the gastrointestinal tract. Remember that the hardest thing our body does is to digest food.
- Mobilization of detoxifying defence mechanisms.
- Promotes recuperation in chronic illness.
Fasting can cause certain changes to occur. There is weight loss initially, lowered blood pressure, heart rhythm changes, a decrease in triglycerides and cholesterol as the fats are mobilised from the liver, an increase in uric acid (therefore is contraindicated in gout) and a decrease in blood sugar. Fasting also enhances immune function and decreases inflammation.
Short fast 3-5 days with no food.
This is known as a water fast. Consume only fruit, vegetables and water for 24hrs prior to and just after fasting. Try and maintain a stress free environment. Fast on a holiday. Drink spring/filtered water only when thirsty. Encourage gentle exercise i.e. Stretching. Avoid extremes. Drink prune juice if constipation develops.
Nutrients to improve detoxification and protect against liver damage
There are 2 phases of detoxification in the liver. Certain nutrients are involved in each. These are;
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, A, C, E and minerals, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and protein
Vitamins B2, B3 and minerals chromium, selenium and zinc Other important nutrients are lecithin, methionine, cysteine, inositol and choline. Silymarin 420 mg day – after 6 weeks can see normalised cell changes in the liver.
Nutrients for the bowel
Fibre is important as it actually grabs heavy metals and gets rid of them out of the body. This is called chelation. Oat bran, pectin, guar gum, psyllium and slippery elm are examples. Avoid psyllium if you have diverticultis. Probiotics such as acidophilus, bifidus and casei and prebiotics such as are fructooligosaccharides and inulin important for bowel health. Fructooligosaccharides and inulin are the food that the good flora eats. Take fibre away from medications/supplements.
Therapeutic Fasting should ideally be conducted under professional assistance particularly if you have Heavy Metal Bioaccumulation or Food allergy/sensitivities. Book a Heavy Metal Detoxification iProgramme now
Carina Harkin BHSc.Nat.BHSc.Hom.BHSc.Acu.
Cert IV TAE. ARCHTI mem.