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3-Week Detox Plan

Get clearer skin, boost energy, reduce cellulite, lose weight, and more.

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Get clearer skin, boost energy, reduce cellulite, lose weight, and more

“By 7:30 in the evening, I was on the couch, exhausted,” recalls Lina Fronzo. A cleansing program, under the guidance of Gaetano Morello, ND, and some simple lifestyle changes, transformed her life.

Lina’s very full day starts at 5:30 am and sometimes continues until 11 pm, although she usually goes to bed a bit earlier. “I don’t slow down for a minute,” she says.

Taking care of a teenage son, a husband, and an elderly mother, as well as running a home business, are all part of her usual day. And five times a week, she works out for an hour at a local gym, training with weights and doing a variety of cardio routines, including kickboxing and spinning.

“You have to get rid of the toxins in your body to make everything work the way it’s supposed to,” she says. In addition to doing periodic cleanses, Lina changed her diet, switching from white pasta and rice to brown and eating organic food as much as possible, with more fruits, vegetables, fish, and poultry. “We never eat red meat now,” she says.

Instead of only drinking coffee for breakfast, she now has a protein shake, oatmeal or granola with fruit, or an omelet, and takes fish oil and other essential nutrients found in good-quality multis. Other meals consist of a combination of lean proteins and fresh vegetables, flavored with a variety of spices instead of salt. She drinks lots of water and has an occasional glass of wine.

“My sister is 7 years younger, but she looks 9 years older,” says Lina, now 46, “And she eats [processed] food out of a package.” At a recent 25-year school reunion, a former classmate could not believe Lina had not had cosmetic surgery.

In addition to regaining a tremendous amount of energy, she gradually lost a significant amount of body fat and dropped 4 dress sizes. “All the cellulite I had on the back of my legs has totally disappeared,” she says, “And my skin is unbelievable.”

Why Cleanse?

“The average human being has between 400 and 700 chemicals that we’ve tested for,” says Gaetano Morello, ND, naturopathic director at Complement Healthcare in West Vancouver, Canada, and author of Whole Body Cleansing: Transform Your Health Through Gentle Purification and Effective Detoxification. However, he points out, there are over 85,000 chemicals in use, and tests have only measured levels of about 1,000 of these in the human body.

The health effects of toxins are not fully understood, but, he says, “We can assume that these chemicals aren’t benefiting us in any way.” For example, studies published in journals such as Obesity Reviews and Toxicological Sciences show that, because toxins are stored in body fat, they can make weight loss difficult, if not impossible, without a cleansing program.

In trials of obese women and men who lost weight, blood levels of common pesticides increased because they were released from fat into the bloodstream. At the same time, there was a decrease in levels of thyroid hormone (which drives metabolism) and resting metabolic rate (the number of calories a body burns to stay alive). In weight-loss programs, this mechanism causes plateaus and regain of body fat.

The Detoxification Process

The amount of chemicals in a human body at any given time, or body burden, is determined by two things, says Morello: exposure and the ability to detoxify. Avoiding exposure as much as possible and becoming more efficient at eliminating toxins, through a healthy, high-fiber diet and periodic cleanses, reduces body burden and improves health and vitality.

To describe the detoxification process, Morello uses this analogy: To remove dried oil paint from your hand, you need turpentine to thin it and a cloth to wipe it off. With toxins, the liver performs a similar two-phase process: Waste is dumped into bile that takes the toxins into the bowel. There, bile binds with soluble fiber from
the diet and is eliminated.

The process can break down because the liver is overloaded with too many toxins, or there is insufficient dietary fiber, in which case up to 98 percent of the bile is recycled in the body. Then, toxins enter the bloodstream and, eventually, are deposited for storage in fat. Fasting provokes toxin recycling because of lack of fiber.

When toxins are released, they generate free radicals which, in turn, trigger internal inflammation. To combat this inflammation, Morello says, “You need high levels of antioxidants to put out those fires as quickly as possible.”

An organic diet that is high in fiber and antioxidants from lots of fresh fruits and vegetables will improve the body’s natural detoxification system. But even then, says Morello, “Once in a while, we need to do something special to eliminate more of those toxins.”

What to Do

These are the steps Morello recommends to lower your body burden of toxins.

1. Ongoing:

• Filter the air and water in your home.
• Reduce dietary intake of chemicals by eating organic foods and choosing organic versions of produce with the highest pesticide load (see
• Get adequate fiber. The National Academy of Sciences recommends 35 g daily for men and 25 g daily for women, approximately double the American average. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; unlike food from animal sources, all plant foods contain fiber. Good fiber sources include apples and pears (about 4 g each), berries (about 3 to 8 g per cup), whole grains, and legumes (cooked beans range from around 4 to more than 7 g per half-cup). If you eat cereal, choose one with at least 4 g of fiber per serving.
• Use non-toxic, environmentally friendly versions of household cleaning agents and laundry detergents, air fresheners, and hair and skincare products. Keep in mind that the skin is not a barrier, but an organ that absorbs anything you put on it.

2. Three to four times per year, do a three-week cleansing program:

Week 1

Increase your antioxidant levels by drinking fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices daily and, in addition to any usual supplements, take these:

Vitamin C: 1 to 2 g daily; cut back if diarrhea occurs.
Vitamin E: 400 IU daily.
Resveratrol: 300 mg daily.
Alpha lipoic acid: 350 mg daily.

Weeks 2 and 3

Continue taking extra antioxidants and drinking fresh juices as in week 1. To release chemical compounds stored in body fat, spend 15 minutes daily in an infrared sauna or do 30 minutes of daily exercise, intense enough to break a sweat. And, to enhance detoxification, take these:

NAC (N-acetyl cysteine): 300 mg daily. A special form of the amino acid cysteine, NAC is a precursor of our internal production of glutathione, a key part of our built-in antioxidant defense system, and it helps the liver to eliminate toxins.

Milk thistle: 300–400 mg daily of the phytosome form, which is absorbed most effectively. Silymarin, a key substance in milk thistle, helps the liver to repair itself, protects it against toxins, and is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Curcumin: 750 mg twice daily. The active ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric, curcumin has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat liver problems and supports healthy function of the organ.

Fiber supplements: Take 5 g in the morning and another 5 g in the evening.

Protein: Once daily, between meals, get 12–15 g of protein from whey or vegetarian protein powder (without artificial ingredients) mixed with water. The amino acids in these are easy to assimilate and are used to produce enzymes required by the liver to detoxify.

Magnesium hydroxide: For constipation, take a laxative that contains magnesium hydroxide. Known as an “osmotic” laxative, this compound works by drawing water into waste material in the bowel, rather than acting as a stimulant that may cause irritation.

Alternately, try a cleansing kit that may combine these and other ingredients. Try The Vitamin Shoppe AM/PM Power Cleanse.

Toxin Test Stats

In the Human Toxome Project of the non-profit Environmental Working Group (, scientists measure levels of industrial chemicals in the human body, absorbed from food, air, water, or contact with various products that we use daily. In a group of 172 people of all ages, blood, urine, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood samples were tested for 552 industrial chemicals. Of these, 409 different chemicals were found in the bodies of study participants.

The CDC examines blood and urine samples from 2,400 people every two years. Although it does not test for as many chemicals as the Human Toxome Project, the CDC has found 212 different chemicals in the bodies of Americans.

The National Human Adipose Tissue Survey (NHATS), a program of the US government, collected and tested approximately 12,000 samples of human fat tissues from cadavers and surgical patients between 1967 and the late 1980s. Among the conclusions: “The NHATS has successfully documented widespread and significant prevalence of pesticide exposures in the general population.”

Test your detox knowledge

For thousands of years, people have been cleansing their bodies and environments of toxins through a variety of means. See how many of the following questions you can answer correctly:
By Kathleen Engel

  1. Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a tonic, the herb schisandra helps to:
    a. Restore a weak immune system
    b. Increase mental focus
    c. Improve physical stamina
    d. All of the above
  2. Written about in ancient Egyptian medical texts, this treatment was also employed by Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen to remove toxins from the large intestine:
    a. Fasting
    b. Colon hydrotherapy
    c. Leeches
    d. Bloodletting
  3. Native Americans poured water over hot rocks piled in the center of this structure to help people cleanse themselves physically and spiritually:
    a. Teepee
    b. Medicine wheel
    c. Sweat lodge
    d. None of the above
  4. Shamans in the Amazon rain forest boiled the bark from this tree for a tea intended to detoxify the liver:
    a. Willow
    b. Elm
    c. Brazil nut
    d. Coconut
  5. To detoxify the body, this system of traditional medicine employs yoga, breathing exercises, herbs, aromatherapy oils, juice fasts, and meditation:
    a. Kundalini
    b. Bikram
    c. Ayurveda
    d. Hinduism
  6. In this TCM therapy, the herb mugwort is burned and applied on or near a specific meridian in order to remove blockages of chi (energy):
    a. Cupping
    b. Moxibustion
    c. Acupuncture
    d. Qigong
  7. For many years, baths and saunas have been popular methods of stimulating circulation and detoxifying the body in this European country:
    a. Finland
    b. Germany
    c. Sweden
    d. All of the above
  8. In native American tribes that practice smudging, herbs such as sage and lavender are burned in order to:
    a. Purify places of negative energy
    b. Improve intestinal health
    c. Relieve allergies and thin mucus
    d. Aid fertility and hormonal balance

HEALTH DIRECT SCULPT N’ CLEANSE COLON CLEANSING FORMULA with psyllium seed and senna removes toxic build-up and mucoid plaque in your intestines, relieves bloating and constipation, and promotes weight loss.

ENZYMATIC THERAPY WHOLE BODY CLEANSE helps you make a fresh start with magnesium to encourage elimination of waste, along with a blend of herbs including slippery elm, marshmallow, and red clover.

HEALTH PLUS SUPER COLON CLEANSE promotes regularity with psyllium husk fiber, plus contains senna (a natural laxative), and soothing peppermint and rosehips.

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RENEW LIFE CLEANSE SMART is a 30-day total-body cleansing system that combines several cleansing herbal extracts in one kit designed to increase energy, support liver and colon health, and remove toxins.