Do You Have to be Ripped to be a Personal Trainer?

Workout

I used to work with a fat trainer.

He wasn’t a little chunky like he enjoyed a beer or 7 on the weekend — this dude had a belly on him. He was bald with a pudgy face. Every time that he spotted a client on the bench press, he had to contort his body into an awkward anterior pelvic tilt so his belly wouldn’t get in the way.

I worked with this individual early on in my career. Admittedly, I was immature and negative in my thinking. I couldn’t understand why anybody in their right mind would want to train with this guy — he wasn’t particularly attractive and in no way exuded a healthy lifestyle.

Click to read more about the trainer’s responsibility

*This article is written by Jonathan Goodman.
jonJonathan Goodman is the creator of the world’s largest independent collaborative community of personal trainers, the Personal Trainer Development Center (the PTDC). He is also the author of the best book for personal trainersIgnite the Fire. Originally from Toronto, Jon spends his winters exploring the world.
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Food Budget Strategies that Help Avoid the High Cost of Illness

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Eating healthy shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Eat healthy! How do you do this with the rising costs of food, gas and everything else? This is a question often asked by people when considering how to improve their diets. However, the real question should be “How can you afford not to eat healthy with the high costs of being ill?”

Eating healthy means different things to different people. The many cultures that Weston A. Price studied had vastly different diets, but they all were remarkably healthy. The current media-recommended diets found in magazines, on television, in advertisements, and in top-sellers are usually not diets to build and sustain healthy individuals. Eating healthy means selecting foods that are nutrient-dense and readily available to the individual.

Healthy diets therefore depend on what is accessible. An individual in Florida would obviously eat more local citrus than someone in Michigan who has access to other fruits, such as apples, peaches and cherries. No matter where you live, however, it is possible to consume a healthy diet for reasonable cost. This is one of the wonders of Dr. Price’s research and recommendations. He did not dictate exact foods and consumption amounts as is often seen in present day media-driven diets. Dr. Price presented overall guidelines leaving individuals able to determine a healthy diet for themselves.

A big factor in determining what sort of healthy diet to consume is the amount one can afford to spend on food; however, modest finances need not force anyone to eat an unhealthy diet. There are healthy nutrient-dense foods that are not costly. When Weston Price traveled the world conducting his seminal research, he did not encounter cultures that were wealthy in ways recognized by materially inspired moderns. Nevertheless, food was important to these cultures, and they worked hard to ensure its high quality. The effort they expended to achieve this high standard was understood to be worth the benefits such expenditures of time, labor and skill reliably produced. These cultures universally recognized that what they could not afford was sickly children or weak individuals who were not productive members of their society. Understanding the link between health and nutrition, they paid close attention to obtaining foods that sustained a healthy culture.

Costs Of Not Eating Nutritious Foods

The financial cost of a nutritionally deficient diet can be staggering. Western culture has the luxury of being able to support ill people and therefore has gotten lazy about the importance of consuming high quality food. However, as a society we cannot continue to let our bodies deteriorate. The financial burden on society is tremendous.

In a December 16, 2007 article, The Washington Post reported that as a society, the US spends over $14,000 per family per year on medical costs. It would be far better to spend this money improving people’s lives and health. The personal burden of illness is also great. Many people suffer significantly, both financially and personally, because of poor health.

Eating nutritious foods does not have to be costly and can actually be a cost savings in the long-run. There are many things people can do to control food costs while still consuming a health-promoting diet. When budgeting, most people separate medical costs from food costs. However, these two are linked. As one eats more nutritious foods, medical problems and costs can be mitigated or eliminated, thus reducing overall spending. And actually, for the typical family, an increase in food costs is not even necessary for improving the diet.

Improving one’s diet does mean spending more time finding more nutritious foods and food sources. But costs do not necessarily have to rise. Not everyone may be able to afford wild salmon for dinner, but they can afford beans and brown rice, both very high in nutrients, especially if served with a little meat, cheese or raw milk. Even the poorest of the poor can choose to eat nutrient-dense foods.

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1. Know Your Costs

Computing costs of food is not difficult but most people do not do it. To determine which food is a better value compute (1) cost per calorie, (2) cost per gram protein, (3) cost per pound, and (4) cost per meal. Knowing the cost per meal will help in meal planning and budgeting.

To compute the cost per calorie, simply take the cost of the package and divide it by the total calories in the package. The total calories are the number of servings times the calories per serving. Likewise, cost per gram protein is computed by dividing the total cost by the grams of protein per serving times the number of servings. Some foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are best compared using cost per pound. Shopping with a calculator and taking notes will greatly facilitate this process. Do not spend too much time being extremely precise, the rough estimate will speak for itself. The biggest difficulty will be finding cost data for food that does not come with a nutritional label or a barcode. Here cost per pound will be most effective.

As you gather more and more data, your general understanding of various food costs will increase, and some foods that seemed expensive to you before will no longer appear to be so costly. For example, pre-made hamburger patties of good quality cost about $1.00 per quarter pound patty or $4.00 per pound. Grass-fed ground beef can be purchased for $3.00 per pound and made into patties. Raw-milk which costs $5.00-$6.00 per gallon can be made into yogurt for much less than the cost of good-quality whole-milk plain yogurt. Typically, processed foods will be much more expensive. Dry beans cost about half as much as canned beans. Making hamburger patties, yogurt and beans does not take a great deal of handson- time, it just requires advance planning.

2. Plan Meals

Planning meals is a necessary part of developing a healthy diet and also controlling costs. A little time spent regularly planning meals produces great rewards both financially and operationally. Each person needs to determine how long a planning horizon to use. Most often, a weekly schedule is used but some do it for a month and others for three days. The point is that it is necessary. Without a plan, one can not hope to operate efficiently. For us, Sunday evening is the time to plan the meals for the week and to take meat needed for the next few days out of the freezer. Mondays and Thursdays as I make dinner, I also prepare for meals later in the week.

Keep your plans simple. Plans that are too complicated are difficult to follow. Meals do not have to be different every day. As a time and stress saver, we always have baked chicken on Mondays for dinner. This frees me from having to think of a meal for that day. I know we will go through fifty chickens in a year and therefore we buy those from a local farmer once a year. Simple meals require fewer specialty ingredients, which allows more room in the cupboards and refrigerator for more nutritious items, and also saves money. Although Mondays are simple and repetitive, weekends are planned as time for elaborate fancy new culinary delights. This gives us the opportunity to try new recipes and look forward to something special.

Modify your meal plan as you go. If you find that week after week you have extra leftovers, then plan meals composed of leftovers with a backup if the leftovers are gone. Our leftover Monday chicken is planned to go into a soup Wednesday or Thursday. Soups are excellent places to utilize leftovers. If you find that week after week you are eating out one particular day of the week, then try to plan something simple for that meal, or else build going out into your plan by including less expensive foods in other meals. After a few months of planning, it will become an easy routine.

3. Make a Budget

Budget can be a nasty word, but instead of being confining, a budget can actually be liberating. When determining a budget, start by tracking all food costs, including eating out, for a couple of months to get a good understanding of what you are already spending. Try not to change your supply of food on hand. Once you know how much you spend, see how this fits into your overall budget. Is this amount realistic?

Recently, a friend asked me to help her plan food purchases given that she had $60 per week to feed a family of seven. This is an example of an unrealistic food budget. She could not provide enough calories for her family even if she spent the $60 per week entirely on dried lentils and rice. Fortunately, she was able to decrease spending in other areas to increase her family food budget, and they are also raising their own grass-fed beef and some other food.

The budgeting time period will depend on the specific family economic situation. Some people shop weekly and would benefit from a weekly budget allowance, assuming that they are also putting money away for the large food purchases that come up occasionally. Others who receive a bi-monthly paycheck may want to operate with a two-week budget. In our family we must set aside money each paycheck for big annual purchases such as chickens, beef and pork, which tend to all arrive in the late summer and fall. We have a second budget for monthly purchases such as raw milk, cheese, and food co-op purchases, and a third budget for weekly purchases from a local market and egg farmer. This is probably more elaborate than need be when just starting out, but it works for us.

To balance a budget, expensive meals need to be offset by inexpensive meals. This is where knowing the true cost of your foods is helpful. We typically plan a couple meals per week of lentils and brown rice, refried brown rice with egg, bean burritos, soup or pasta as our inexpensive meals. These offset the more expensive meals that include raw cheese, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild fish. Remember that in the traditional cultures Price studied, there were sacred foods for which the people sacrificed dearly.

Record keeping is critical for good budgeting. One can plan forever but if spending is not stopped when the money runs out, budgets will not work. There are many ways to keep track of spending. Some people use an envelope system where money is regularly put into an envelope for a certain purpose, with a rule that expenditures can only be made from that envelope. Others keep track on paper or on a spreadsheet. Using this system requires setting a dollar figure for each period and then expenses are recorded and subtracted from the total. I have seen people keep their food budget on the refrigerator door. It can also be kept in the back of the checkbook. What is important is keeping track somewhere so it works for you.

Like meal planning, budgeting is a cyclical process. If you find you are constantly overspending in one area, try to reduce another area to make up for it. Try adding more inexpensive meals and reducing the frequency of expensive meals. It may be that you must eat inexpensive meals six days a week allowing for something special only once a week. You will enjoy it much more if it truly is something special.

Making a budget is easier than sticking to it. Through trial and error you will learn to refine your budget over time into something that works best for you.

4. Buy Nutrient-Dense Foods

A healthy diet consists of eating foods that are high in nutrition. Nutritional needs will vary for each individual but getting a good “bang for the buck” is important. In general, more nutritious foods are going to be grown by farmers interested in nutrition and healthy sustainable agricultural methods. These foods will not have nutritional information or barcodes attached to them!

Identify the top half-dozen most nutritious foods you want in your diet. Buy these first before considering other foods. In our house, cod liver oil, butter oil, raw milk, raw cheese, butter, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and eggs, and wild fish are top priorities. These are foods we are willing to spend a lot of money on and do not opt for cheaper alternatives. These are similar to the sacred foods that traditional cultures valued highly.

If most of your food is nutrient dense and your family is basically healthy, some of what you eat can be a compromise. At other times for health reasons, one needs to be 100 percent vigilant. A friend of mine with severe multiple chemical sensitivities must, for her own health, be constantly aware of everything she consumes. But most of us can satisfactorily operate using an 80-20 rule. If 80 percent of our diet is good, 20 percent can be less nutritious. However, there are absolutes that should not be violated.

5. Keep a Short List Of Absolutes

Typically the list of absolutes are absolute no’s but can include some absolute yes’s. For example, in our house we operate with an absolute no to diet pop and an absolute yes to daily cod liver oil. Keep your list short (two or three items), otherwise it is difficult to remember and act on your absolutes. As one item is weeded out, another can be targeted. It is important to focus on an absolute no for at least three to six months for it to be truly weeded out. Some absolutes may take years to uproot entirely. So choose absolutes wisely. For many people, I advise starting with soft drinks if that is a problem in their family. Sodas are a big “budget buster” as well as providing no nutrition and causing the body harm. Water works!

6. Know Your “Budget Busters”

Budget busters are things that you find over time cause you to overspend. Each person will have his own particular budget busters and will need to be creative with ways to avoid them. Some common budget busters include eating out, packaged or processed foods, cold breakfast cereals, beverages that add little nutritional value, and impulse purchases made in the store.

Eating out is a common budget buster. To fight this, I keep some food in the house that is easily and quickly prepared, and which stores well. For us, it used to be packaged macaroni and cheese, and we called it “emergency food.” Although this was not the greatest choice, I rarely used it but enjoyed knowing it was there. It was part of the 20 percent solution. After a while of it sitting idly on the shelf, the kids started begging for “emergency.” I now use cans of organic beans that are heated in a pot with spices from the cupboard. This can be on the table in five minutes and is nutritious and cheap.

Packaged foods, like eating out, can cause significant damage to a budget. Dry beans are half the cost of canned beans. Commercial barbeque sauce is more expensive per pound than the freerange chicken it goes on. The more food that can be purchased in its whole form and cooked at home, the less expensive eating will be. Breakfast cereal, although easy for kids to manage, is far, far more expensive than eggs which have far, far more nutrition. Does it take all that much more time to make thirty hamburger patties and store them in the freezer for later use than to buy premade patties of lower quality? Having a good plan will reduce the need for packaged foods.

Beverages are often overlooked budget busters because we habitually spend money for them without questioning their nutritional value. As mentioned earlier, soft drinks are extremely expensive for their nutritional value, and so are alcoholic drinks and coffee. Beverages should provide nutrition and not be empty calories. This does not mean that these can never be consumed, unless they are on your absolute list. Wine is a nice addition to a special meal and does add some nutrition although it is not a good nutritional value for the money. Coffee can have some nutrition if raw cream is used, but it too has little nutritional value for the cost. Occasionally (less than once a year) we will have commercial root beer with home-made vanilla ice cream. The key is that these are not on the forbidden list for us, and we choose these as treats and consume them very rarely. There are wonderful nutritious beverages that can be substituted instead, such as raw milk, beet kvas, kombucha, and others found in Nourishing Traditions.

Impulse purchases will blow any budget. When you visit any store (grocery, clothing, hardware, anywhere) bring a list with a dollar figure that can be spent. At least then you start with a plan. Sticking to it is easier if you know what you are allowed. Purchases over the budget can be evaluated for just what they are: “special purchases.”

Each person will have her own specific budget busters. Our two greatest budget busters are entertaining and eating out. I will buy things for company that I would not normally purchase for the family. To combat this, I prepare a budget for specific entertaining activities and plan for it just like regular meals. We do add some special items because it is a special night, but not hundreds of dollars of special items.

I have to resist the temptation to eat out. Fortunately, if I am diligent about planning meals the temptation is greatly reduced. It is when I am stressed that I am most likely to want to eat out, but it is then that I most need the good nutrition of a home-cooked meal. With a plan, I am far better about avoiding the budget busters.

7. Make Some Improvements

Life is constant growth. We need to continue to make new improvements in our diet. Decide what is most important. It should be something doable. Then act on it. Focus on that thing specifically until it is reasonably mastered. Usually this will take three months or more. Then choose something else. Changes can be small, like changing the kind of salt used, or big, like cutting out all soy products. Pick good times of the year to make changes. If Christmas is a weak point, start something new in January, not November. Keep a list of what you hope to change in the future. We are planning on buying more milk to make all of our butter and at some point removing coffee from our diet. The key is to keep working at it and to be kind to yourself.

8. Practice Forgiveness

To accomplish anything in the present that will benefit us in the future, we must forgive our past. Act in the present so that you can gain in the future. We have all made mistakes in our past, mistakes that have lasting consequences. We were acting with a limited set of information. Now that we know better, we can act differently. The future is glorious.

*This article is written by Anne M.A. Sergeant. Anne M.A. Sergeant, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Grand Valley State University. She is a former board member for Nourishing Traditions of West Michigan and has given talks on practicalities of getting started on a Weston A. Price diet, cheese-making, canning and preserving foods.
To read the full article and her sources, please visit: Healthy Eating Budgets (Weston A. Price)

 

Is Cardio Making You Skinny Fat?

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Not including athletes, the reason most of us exercise is to:

  • Obtain or maintain an attractive body
  • Stay healthy and prevent disease

Yet, when you ask the majority what they’re doing to get there, they commonly answer:

Running, cycling, swimming, or any other moderate-intensity steady-state aerobic activity (a.k.a. CARDIO!) This response stems from the false belief that exercise should focus on burning calories, and the reinforcement from conventional wisdom that endurance training is the best way to stay healthy and fit.

Click here to read the entire article by Charles R. Poliquin.

*This article is written by Charles R. Poliquin
Charles R Poliquin is recognized as one of the World’s most accomplished strength coaches who attributes his success to the quest for the “magical training program”. Now as Strength Sensei he shares his acquired knowledge and wisdom with the emerging leaders in the strength and conditioning field. Now after decades of disciplined research and training he has refined his craft so he can educate the dedicated few who want to maximize their learning so they can bring their results back to their athletes. Charles now dedicates his time to educate strength coaches from around the world so they can produce world class athletes.

 

 

The Principles of Balance: 7 Things You Can Do to Boost your Immune System

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Most of the modern illness that plagues western societies, and many in developed countries, result from weaknesses in the immune system. Diseases such as, Cancer, Ulcers, AIDS, Colitis, Candidiasis, Heart disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Colds, Flus and infectious diseases are examples of some of the problems caused by years of immune system weakness.

There are natural approaches that boost our immunity. Utilizing these methods will help us to avoid many of these illnesses that are all too common.

The immune system is the most complex and fascinating system in the human body. Its primary functions are to protect us from infections and repair damage to the body cells, tissues, and organs. If functioning well, the immune system keeps us free of the above diseases and slows down the aging process.

Here are the 7 top things that you can do to strengthen your immune system.

1. Eat a healthy diet. There is much confusion about this. Around the world, the basic healthy diets are, and always were, macrobiotic in principle; that is they all followed the ancient principles of balance in the selection of daily foods. They centered on grains and vegetables with regular and moderate amounts of natural animal foods, beans, legumes, natural fats, seasonings, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds and mild herbal teas. This way of eating, along with the proper cooking of the foods, ensures a base of healthy nutrients to bolster the immune function. The principles of balance show up in the awareness of the specific effects of foods on the functions of our body and mind. Certain foods cool down the body or metabolism in modern terms. Other foods heat up or stimulate the metabolism. For example, foods with lots of water slow the metabolism. Nature supplies watery foods in hot climates to make balance.

2. Avoid or limit white flour products, refined sugar, and other nutrient deficient foods. After eating a large amount of refined sugar, the white blood cell count is lowered for the next 5 hours. White blood cells are the pillars of the immune system. White flour products such as bagels and pasta have similar effects. Avoid chemicals, additives and preservatives in foods. Be careful of the packaged foods you eat, and as much as possible, avoid poor quality food at fast food restaurants.

3. Avoid or limit factory farmed meats and poultry. These products contain high amounts of fats, pesticides and antibiotics which weaken the immune system. Consume naturally raised animal foods such as fish, lamb, beef, chicken and eggs. Eat them weekly or daily in moderation. Many Americans eat too many animal products.  Overeating protein slows your metabolism and interferes with digestion. Instead of being digested, it may rot in the intestines causing a patch of glands in the lower abdomen to produce white blood cells to counteract the bad bacteria. Since 70% of your immune cells are in the gut, these cells are diverted from repairing the sores in your arteries that lead to heart disease and from repairing damage to the DNA that can lead to cancer.

4. Supplement your diet with vitamins, minerals and herbs.  For years, the medical establishment and some natural food diet promoters have told people that supplements are not needed; just eat a balanced diet we are told while more people get sick every year. For most people, the extreme stresses and toxins of modern living can’t be offset by healthy eating and lifestyle alone. Supplementing with Vitamin C has been proven to lower the incidence of both cancer and heart disease. Vitamin E has been shown to slow the effects of aging and boost the immune system. B vitamin supplementation counters the stresses of modern living on our nervous system. Selenium supplementation lowers the incidence of prostate cancer and heart disease. Learn about the benefits of supplements from reliable sources such as Linus Pauling, Abram Hoffer, Ewan Cameron, Wilfred and Evan Shute, Roger J Williams and Andrew Saul.

5. Do stress reducing exercises. Because of our modern lifestyle, many of us run in the stress mode where the sympathetic nervous system is running in overdrive. Over time, this will break down your immune function leading to disease. Certain types of exercises, originally from the East, will switch your mode from the excessive burnout mode of the sympathetic nervous system to the restorative function of the parasympathetic nervous system. Learn and practice any of these exercises regularly for stress relief; gentle yoga, yogic or qigong breathing, qigong or tai chi exercises. Over time, by practicing these exercises, you train your mind and body to handle stress better.

6. Get enough sleep. Sleep is the greatest balancer. In modern lifestyles, we value activity, but too much activity leads to imbalance in the body and mind. The greatest restorative practice is getting adequate sleep. If we don’t sleep at least 7 hours per night, our body operates in the stress mode. This mode eventually knocks down the immune system.

7. Learn about current, progressive and integrated natural and macrobiotic health approaches. Not those that are a rehash in modern books of what was thought to be good for your health in the 1960’s and 70’s natural health movement. There have been many cases of people diagnosed with nutritional deficiencies, stokes, alcoholism and other debilitating diseases among those stringently adhering to restricted natural diet dogmas. Some have lost their lives to cancer, the very disease the restricted natural diets were supposed to prevent or heal. Learn from real experts what has been proven to work and what has not. An expert is defined as having a minimum of 10,000 hours of a certain kind of deliberate practice in his or her field by Forbes senior editor Geoff Colvin in Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. Modern diet and lifestyle experts, and traditional cultures, follow diets, lifestyles, and healing practices according to the principles of balance, not dietary dogma.

Traditional wisdom about the principles of balance still holds true. In order to stay healthy, we have to create a state of balance between tension and relaxation, under or over activity, strength and flexibility, and other opposites in our bodies and mind,

Times have changed. We are dealing with circumstances that the ancients never dreamed of, but the principle of balance doesn’t change. Because of changing times our food, lifestyle, and remedies have to be adapted to today’s world as new information is coming to light through modern research or findings. Interpreting new information can help us to update outdated ideas that seemed to be true in the past, but are found to be obsolete in the light of greater knowledge.

Read widely about natural health practices, but I would encourage you to evaluate them according to the principle of balance. The above suggestions will get you started in the right direction. The discovery of the truth of anything begins with our desire to learn the answers. I suggest that you don’t accept easy answers, but delve deeper into the truths of health.

*This article was written by John Kozinski. He has been a pioneer natural health teacher, author, and researcher since 1976. Education and diagnostic techniques are rooted in his clinical experience with 40,000+ students and clients. John resigned in 2013 from the Kushi Institute faculty after 27 years. To address catastrophic illness that developed in those following restrictive natural diets John reveals in a new training program his clinical experience and research into what was really working and why for people following popular diets. This education gives teachers, health practitioners, and students new skills to help evaluate and treat a wide variety of health conditions both naturally and complementary to medical treatments. www.macrobiotic.com

Liver Detoxification: Starve or Nourish?

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Liver cleanses are in style these days, with many doit- yourself diets out there on the Internet. Detox and cleanse advocates will usually produce a bulletpointed list of why their specific liver cleansing protocol is healthy for you, why your body needs it, and why you are practically irresponsible if you choose not to go through with their protocol. However, upon closer inspection one soon realizes the lack of medical literature to support these claims.

In fact, many liver detox proponents seem to be blowing hot air. Even “The Master Cleanse,” a popular detox regimen which claims to be the most successful cleanse diet of its type and which thousands of people undertake each year, has no scientific grounding—a shocking fact considering the number of people who participate in it on a regular basis! This so-called “Lemonade Diet,” promoted by Mike Olaski, claims to “rest and relieve” the digestive system. However when viewed from a biological understanding of the liver and how it functions, it is clear that the master cleanse does no such thing. In fact, it might actually work to put stress on the liver and deprive it of nutrients, and consequently have the opposite effect of its purported claims.

Other liver detox diets, such as the liver cleanse promoted by Jon Barron, or Dr. Oz’s forty-eight hour liver cleanse, are similar, promising magical results on a starvation regime of vegetable juices and vegetable broth. These regimes often include detox formulations that contain a mix of herbs and other compounds. In this article I will address the claim that a juice cleanse is an effective way to detoxify or cleanse the liver.

DETOXIFICATION

Detoxification is a term given to the process of removing toxins from the body. A toxin is a poison, so it is understandable why many people feel that embarking on a detox diet in order to lower their levels of toxicity is a good idea. Lowering the levels of toxicity in one’s body is something that all health enthusiasts, regardless of their particular school of thought, agree is beneficial to health. However, how to achieve this goal is a much more controversial issue.

Detoxing and cleansing product advocates will claim that the most effective way of removing toxins from the liver is via a detox diet or cleanse, usually one that involves some form of juice or a product that can be purchased on the Internet. It is important to understand that the detoxification industry is an industry like any other, and like any industry, there are people who want to make money from your belief that you need their product. Many seemingly genuine health gurus who tout the acclaimed health benefits of liver cleanses have an underlying motivation to promote their own special detox plans. That motivation often comes down to a desire for cash.

However, the idea of lowering the amount of toxins within one’s body is arguably a commendable route towards greater health. It is undeniable that we exist in a toxic environment: pesticides sprayed on vegetables, phthalates in plastics and cosmetics, chlorine in household cleaners, PCBs and heavy metals in farm-raised fish, and antibiotics and dioxins in commercially produced animal products are just a few examples of toxins that are in most people’s environment every day. Even those of us who take extreme care to eat only organic foods, avoid commercial cleaners, and make our own skincare products are affected by the levels of chemicals that industrial mechanisms have put into our environments.

It is helpful to understand that every chemical is toxic at a certain dose, even water! Dose is important to consider, not only because it teaches us that balance is relevant to everything in our lives, but also because the dosage levels of toxins in our environment are accumulating to higher amounts each year. For example, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, releases of toxins on land rose by 19 percent from 2010 to 2011, primarily due to increases in land disposal at metal mines. As a result of all these factors, discussion of detoxification is now more relevant than ever before, but that does not mean that a juice cleanse will help lower levels of overall toxicity, or that doing so is actually beneficial to one’s liver.

CLEANLINESS AND CLEANSING

Cleansing is a term that is commonly used to describe the process of cleaning one’s system by severely restricting food intake. Liver detox juice cleanses are purported to work on the assumption that in abstaining from food, one is giving one’s system a chance to push out the toxins that may have accumulated. Interestingly, the dictionary definition of “cleanse” is “to free from dirt or guilt; purge or clean.” Utilizing the term “cleanse” is a clever subliminal marketing word choice that leads consumers towards lofty aspirations of greater purity.

It is important to understand before embarking on a detox protocol the role the liver plays in the body, and whether a detoxification diet will in fact be effective in supporting the liver.

The word “liver” is rather aptly derived from the Old English word for “life,” in full regard of the many functions that the liver has within the body. The liver has the ability to synthesize the proteins that the body needs and also makes bile so that food can be digested, but the function that the liver is most famous for is detoxifying the blood.

Most people understand that their liver is where the toxins go, although thinking of it as a dumping point for toxins is not entirely accurate. Most food substances that enter the human body go to the liver from the small intestine for sorting via the portal venous system. The liver sorts out what to keep and what to get rid of.

The blood passes through the liver, which takes out harmful chemicals before, one hopes, they reach toxic levels. They are then made water-soluble so that they can be sent out of the body via sweat or urine. Therefore what happens in the liver is a form of filtering, but it is not like the lint filter in your tumble dryer that regularly clogs up. In a healthy body, toxins leave the liver pretty soon after they come in. They are not merely dumped there as though the liver were a landfill.

Because many toxins are fat-soluble, large quantities of such toxins that enter the body can be stored in fat. It is true that they may be stored in the fat cells in the liver, and that this is not desirable. However, in a healthy functioning body, which is being fed a balanced diet, this is rarely a problem as the liver does a very good job of discarding the toxins that enter the system in a timely manner.

Should one want or need to detoxify the liver at all, it is not quite as instant, simple and easy as spending a day or two (or ten) on a juice cleanse. To get these fat-soluble toxins out of storage is a multi-stage affair. Cleansing for a few days is unlikely to affect the liver directly and may actually deplete it of essential vitamins and minerals. For the majority of the population it seems somewhat misguided to go on a cleanse regimen in order to clear the liver, which is probably doing a good job already!

The truth is that most detoxification diets have less of a direct effect on cleansing the liver than advocates would have you believe. While detox diets might be a step towards healthier eating for a person whose standard diet is high in processed foods and toxic beverages, in reality most people who undertake liver cleanses are those who already eat a relatively healthy diet. Unfortunately, it is the more health-conscious individuals who are attracted to the health-boosting claims touted by detox gurus.

So from this biological point of view, one could argue that a detox diet may be somewhat ineffective, but there are also researchers who point to detox diets as being potentially damaging, mostly because people wrongly believe that if they “do” a detox once a year, that gives them a free ticket to eat and drink whatever they like the rest of the time.

Another concern arises from the premise that when a person embarks on a detox diet, the drastic reduction in calories, fat and protein forces the body to metabolize its fat stores for energy. As the fat stores are rapidly converted into more usable energy, any fat-soluble toxins that have been stored within them are released into the bloodstream in larger amounts than is normal. This means that the liver suddenly has a massive amount to process in a short space of time. This is how detoxification diet advocates claim that their cleanse protocols force the body to release toxins, and this is why some people claim that they feel slightly euphoric when on a detox regimen while others can feel headachy or sick.

In order to clarify the importance of proper nutrition in the way the liver works when detoxifying naturally, we must understand the process by which the liver breaks down unwanted chemicals. The process can be divided into two main stages.

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STAGE ONE: OXIDATION

A special set of enzymes, called the cytochrome P450, are needed to alter the chemical makeup of the toxin that is being stored within the fat cell. The particular enzyme from the group that is used at any one time is different depending on the specific toxin that needs to be altered, but usually this reaction makes the toxin more reactive and more water-soluble. This chemical reaction causes free radical release, so antioxidants are important here, as they reduce the damage that free radicals can cause. Nutrients that are required in this part of the process include the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E; therefore a diet that eliminates fat can be problematic for the liver as these vitamins may be depleted.

After stage one is complete the toxin is very reactive, so it is important that the body has the enzymes that are required for stage two so that it can happen soon after.

STAGE TWO: CONJUGATION

Here the liver continues to work on the chemical that it is trying to release from the fat cell. Its job now is to make this toxin even more water-soluble, so that it can be excreted via urine or bile. The liver usually achieves this by adding another substance to the toxin which dilutes it. Sulfur-containing foods such as egg yolks and amino acids such as taurine and cysteine are important in this stage of detoxification. These amino acids are also found in grass-fed meat and dairy products. If you are not eating these foods regularly, a detox regimen could potentially deplete your stores of these amino acids or the elements that are needed to synthesize them. Should this happen, your body might not be able to process the toxin from stage one into stage two, which will leave you with highly reactive toxins in your system.

So far this is a massive simplification of a very complicated system, yet it will give you a basic understanding of the incredible process involved in detoxification, and just what a great job your liver does on a daily basis. This should also help you understand that your liver needs specific nutrients in order to detoxify well. Your liver does not require a juice cleanse to do its job, and such measures could potentially be unhelpful and even rather meddlesome. This is because you are giving your liver much work all at once and may have depleted the enzyme stores that it needs in order to break down the fat-soluble toxins released in response to your detox regimen.

FATS HELP LIVER FUNCTION

There is another way that you can detoxify your liver, and that is by eating healthy fats. In the simplest form, when you eat fat, your liver releases bile to metabolize the fat. Bile helps the body metabolize those essential fat-soluble vitamins. As bile is a crucial part of the natural detoxification process within your body, if your bile levels are adequate you will eliminate toxins efficiently. One of the ingredients in bile is cholesterol; therefore if you are not consuming enough cholesterol your body will not be able to produce an adequate amount of bile. Cholesterol is found along with healthy fats from grass-fed animals, so eating these foods is a wonderful way to help your body detoxify. The key to a healthy detoxification regime is to do it gradually so that you do not overwhelm your body with a flush of toxins.

Detox cleanses seem to treat the body like a machine, as if it were a car that one could drain of its dirty oil at once and swap it for clean oil. Bodies are not cars, and changes in what is introduced into one’s body usually need to be made slowly so we can adjust and make the necessary metabolic changes. Few systems in the body change instantly. By design our bodies tend to alter themselves incrementally. For this reason, a better way to cleanse the liver is a long-term habit of eating healthy fats rather than a short bout of juice cleansing.

Another consideration when you are thinking about ways to detoxify is to look at the stressors present in your life. When you are stressed, your liver will focus less on detoxification because your body will be operating within its sympathetic nervous system. When the body is dominated by the sympathetic nervous system it diverts resources to the muscles (fight or flight) and away from organs (rest and digest). Stress affects our bodies in many different ways: our muscles tighten and energy is shunted away from our repair and renewal system—and this means that we will not be detoxifying optimally. For this reason, our bodies will store more toxins in fat cells when we are stressed because they do not have the energy required to convert and excrete them.

GELATIN AND RAW MILK

If your diet is full of highly processed foods and toxic drinks, a better plan than a cleanse would be turning to long-term healthy eating. As far as detoxing and the liver are concerned, if you already have a relatively healthy diet, you may be better off focusing on adding more of the foods that deliver those nutrients your liver uses to detoxify. To do something wonderful for your liver, give it a greater supply of nutrient-dense foods, such as cod liver oil, pastured butter, egg yolks, liver and bone broth. Bone broth in particular is an incredible source of nutrients, especially gelatin, which is very beneficial for the digestive tract as well as the immune system and heart.

Gelatin contains proline and glycine, which are amino acids that support liver detoxification. The human body can generate both of these amino acids itself, but if the idea of a cleanse is to give the body a restful experience, then eating foods that offer an abundant supply of such wonderful nutrients is surely the most advisable route to greater health.

You might also consider adding more exercise to your life. In a study with laboratory rats whose running wheels were removed from the cages, it was shown that they began to show signs of fatty liver disease after only a week of a sedentary life. In fact, this study demonstrated that fatty liver disease developed in 100 percent of the rats that had their running wheels removed—a staggering case for the role of physical activity in health.

The best thing that one can do for one’s liver is to eat foods that are low in toxins in the first place; choose organic produce that has not been sprayed with chemicals and limit the intake of processed, commercially produced foods as much as possible. These foods are nutrient-sparse and abundant in toxins. Grass-fed meats and dairy are richer in healthy fat-soluble vitamins A and E, which are involved in synthesizing those enzymes the body needs to break down the fat-soluble toxins in stage one of the detoxification process.

You may also want to consider raw milk produced by cows that are grazing on fields that have not been sprayed by toxic pesticides—an incredibly good source of fat-soluble vitamins A and D. When cows are fed commercial feed, shut in small stalls and deprived of sunlight, these vitamins are diminished. Because pasteurization destroys enzymes, denatures proteins, and lowers the vitamin content of the milk, raw milk is a much more nutrient-dense food.

Raw milk is also a wonderful source of glutathione. Glutathione is an incredible detoxifier and has been elevated to the status of “master antioxidant” by many nutritionists because it increases the activity of all the other antioxidants as well as vitamins C and E. Glutathione is comprised of three amino acids: glycine, glutamate, and cysteine, all found in undenatured form in raw milk. One can take oral supplements of glutathione, but these have been shown to be poorly absorbed rendering them a waste of time and money. There is also some evidence that supplements in this form may interfere with the natural process of glutathione production in the body. The best way to increase levels of glutathione is to digest it by consuming raw milk, as well as red meats and organ meats. Additionally, raw whole milk provides vitamin D, which increases intracellular glutathione.

The same “supplement charade” is true of calcium. Calcium glucarate is helpful in the stage two part of the detoxification process, specifically, in the glucuronidation stage where toxins are bound to water substances such as bile so that they can be removed. Raw milk and raw milk products are our best sources of usable calcium however it is believed that it is not the calcium that is active but the glucarate (http://examine.com/supplements/Calcium-D-Glucarate/).

The take-home message is that your liver is an incredible organ that seamlessly performs a number of essential functions in your body every day, and it can do its job without the intervention of a commercial cleanse. If you want to help your liver detoxify your body, the best thing that you can do is eat nutrient-dense foods such as organic free-range eggs, liver and meats, homemade bone broths, as well as full-fat raw dairy. These healthy foods will provide your liver with a rich supply of vitamins, amino acids and minerals and help it do what it does best: detoxify.

This article was written by Tabitha Farrar, and was published on the Weston A. Price Foundation site. She is the author of the book Love Fat, and  she works as a health editor and writer, yoga instructor, and is a strong advocate for a diet high in nutrient-dense foods. Her twitter handle is @Love_Fat_

To read the original article with her sources, please visit her journal page.